Fired for Taking Needed Medication
According to many reports, heroine use has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., which naturally drives up the number of individuals seeking treatment sometimes aided by the prescription drug methadone. Unfortunately, the uphill battle to recovery goes beyond just kicking the habit; often times, recovering addicts face discrimination when they attempt to reenter the work force or face consequences at their existing jobs. Employment discrimination of this sort not only effects those tackling drug addiction, but also a larger community of people taking prescription drugs for other medical conditions.
Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against an employer who purportedly refused to hire a recovering drug addict in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The case revolves around an applicant denied employment after disclosing she was enrolled in a drug treatment program, where she received methadone for heroine addiction. After looking into the matter, the EEOC is alleging that the prospective employee was discriminated against under the ADA because she is a recovering substance abuser, has a record of a disability, and is “regarded as” having a disability based on her methadone use. The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief, back pay, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
This is one of many employment discrimination cases the EEOC has taken on behalf of prescription drug users. In 2013, a 50K settlement resulted from an alleged wrongful termination of an employee taking meds for bipolar disorder. The previous year, the EEOC settled a suit for $146K alleging that an employer refused to hire applicants and placed existing employees on leave after discovering the use of prescribed narcotic medications. In the same year, a discrimination case involving methadone use settled for $37K. The list is extensive and points to a troubling trend in employment discrimination based on prescription drug use and associated medical conditions. If you believe you have been discriminated against on the job or while seeking employment, contact the Law Offices of Stoltze & Updegraff PLC for help today.
Source: The National Law Review, “EEOC Sues Employer Who Allegedly Refused to Hire Methadone User”, accessed November 16, 2015