Archives: Litigation and Other Proceedings

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Pennsylvania Public Policy Did Not Bar Termination of Nuclear Power Plant Employee Who Tested Positive For Alcohol

A federal district court in Pennsylvania held that public policy did not bar termination of a nuclear power plant employee who tested positive for alcohol. Bennett v. Talen Energy Corp. et al., No. 3:19cv521 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 11, 2019). Plaintiff worked at a nuclear power plant as a production foreman. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”) … Continue Reading

Federal Appeals Court Holds Test For Illegal Drugs Is Not An Impermissible Medical Examination, Even If Test May Reveal Lawful Drug Use

A federal appeals court upheld the termination of an employee who tested positive for amphetamines on a random drug test – despite his claim that the result was due to over-the-counter drug use – and rejected his arguments that the random drug test was an impermissible medical examination and that the Medical Review Officer’s questions … Continue Reading

Court Dismisses ADA Claims Alleging “Excessive” Drug and Alcohol Testing

A federal court in New York dismissed a disability discrimination claim asserted under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) based on allegedly “excessive” drug and alcohol testing of employees after they failed drug or alcohol tests required under the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s regulations. Vuono, et al. v. Consolidated Edison of New York, Inc., … Continue Reading

Drug Testing Laboratories May Be Sued For Negligence In South Carolina

The South Carolina Supreme Court held that laboratories who perform workplace drug tests on behalf of employers owe a duty of care to the individuals who are tested and may be sued for negligence for failing to properly and accurately perform the drug tests and report the results. Shaw v. Psychemedics Corp., App. Case No. … Continue Reading

Oregon Supreme Court Holds Employer Not Completely Immune Under Social Host Statute

Oregon’s highest court has held that although the state’s “social host” law protects certain persons from liability related to their actions taken as “hosts,” there is no similar insulation from liability for alleged tortious conduct committed while acting in another role, such as employer.  Schutz v. La Costita III, Inc., 364 Or. 536 (March 14, … Continue Reading

New Jersey Law Does Not Require Employers To Accommodate Medical Marijuana Users By Waiving Drug Tests

A federal court in New Jersey has held that neither the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (“NJCUMMA”) nor the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) compels an employer to waive its requirements for employees to pass drug tests, even when those drug tests include testing for marijuana. Cotto v. Ardagh Glass Packing, CV-18-1037 … Continue Reading

Iowa Drug Testing Law Amended; Lawsuits on the Rise

Although Iowa’s drug testing statute was enacted more than 30 years ago, it is still considered one of the most difficult laws in the country for purposes of employer compliance. The 10-page law includes provisions addressing permissible types of tests, written notice requirements, rehabilitation for positive alcohol test results, split-specimen testing, and mandatory supervisor training, … Continue Reading

Employee’s Refusal to Take Drug Test Could Not Support Age and Gender Discrimination Claims

A federal court in Massachusetts dismissed the age and gender discrimination claims of a long-term employee who was fired after he refused to take a “reasonable suspicion” drug test. Tombeno v. FedEx Corporate Services, Inc., CV. No. 16-cv-40008-TSH (D. Mass. Jan. 9, 2018). Tombeno worked for FedEx for 22 years as a Business Development Sales … Continue Reading

Federal Court Dismisses Employer’s Claims For Indemnification and Contribution Against Drug Testing Vendor After False Positive Drug Test Result

A federal court in South Dakota granted a motion to strike and a motion to dismiss filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the laboratory that conducted drug tests for the Defendant employer, holding that the employer was not entitled to seek indemnification or contribution from the laboratory for damages based on a … Continue Reading

Federal Law Does Not Preempt Connecticut Medical Marijuana Law Employment Discrimination Prohibition

Federal law does not preempt the Connecticut medical marijuana statute’s prohibition on employers’ firing or refusing to hire qualified medical marijuana patients, even if they test positive on an employment-related drug test, the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut has held. Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co., LLC, d/b/a Bride Brook Health & … Continue Reading

Claim of Massachusetts Employee Fired for Medical Marijuana Use May Proceed, State High Court Rules

An employee fired after she tested positive for marijuana on a test administered in the hiring process should be able to proceed with her “handicap discrimination” claim under Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination statute, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled. Barbuto v. Advantage Sales & Marketing, LLC, SJC -12226 (July 17, 2017). The Court’s ruling partially overturned … Continue Reading

Casino Employee’s ADA Claims Dismissed Due to Current Drug Use

A federal court in Nevada dismissed a casino employee’s American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) claims — even though he had been treated for substance abuse in the past — because he admitted to current drug use which is not protected under the ADA. Scott v. Harrah’s LLC, No. 2:17-cv-01066-APG-VCF (D. Nev. May 9, 2017). Donald … Continue Reading

New York’s Highest Court Asked to Decide Whether New York City Human Rights Law Protects Mistaken Perception of Alcoholism

New York’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, has been asked to decide the question of whether the New York City Human Rights Law permits a claim of disability discrimination based solely on a perception of untreated alcoholism. Makinen v. City of New York, et. al., Docket Nos. 16-973-cv(L), 16-1080-cv (XAP) (2d Cir., … Continue Reading

Unreliable Anonymous Tip Could Not Form Basis Of Reasonable Suspicion Drug Test By Public Employer

A public employee established a Fourth Amendment violation by several individual supervisors of his former employer when they selected him for reasonable suspicion drug testing – and later discharged him — based on an unreliable anonymous tip. Greer v. McCormick, 2:14-cv-13596 (E.D. Mich. April 10, 2017). The Plaintiff, Ralph Greer, was a former employee of … Continue Reading

Licensed Medical Marijuana Caregiver’s Termination For Selling Drugs At Work Was Not Age Discrimination

A federal court in Michigan dismissed the age discrimination claim of a licensed medical marijuana caregiver who was terminated in connection with an investigation into drug activity at work. Henry v. Outback Steakhouse of Fla., LLC, No. 15-cv-10755 (E.D. Mich. April 18, 2017). Medical marijuana is legal in Michigan, but the drug still is illegal … Continue Reading

Reporting Reasonable Suspicion Tests To Third Parties When No Suspicion Existed May Give Rise to Defamation and Invasion of Privacy Claims in Louisiana

Requiring employees to submit to directly observed reasonable suspicion testing and falsely reporting to third parties that the employees were tested because of reasonable suspicion may give rise to claims for invasion of privacy and defamation, according to two recent decisions by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.  Cook v. Warrior Energy … Continue Reading

Applicant Who Failed Pre-Employment Drug Test Could Not Show That Public Employer Violated Her Due Process Rights or Title VII

A federal district court recently dismissed a lawsuit in which a job applicant challenged a public employer’s decision to withdraw an offer of employment after the individual tested positive for cocaine on a pre-employment drug test.  Turner v. Richmond Public Schools, et al., No. 3:16-cv-256 (E.D.VA., March 28, 2017).  The federal action sought to recover … Continue Reading

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal of Public Employee For Failing Random Drug Test

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas did not violate a public employee’s Fourth Amendment rights by requiring the employee to submit to a random drug test or by terminating his employment when he tested positive for cocaine, according to a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  Washington … Continue Reading

Employee Suspected of Drug Diversion Could Not Establish “Regarded as Disabled” Claim

An appellate court recently affirmed summary judgment in favor of a hospital that terminated the employment of a nurse for diverting medications, rejecting her claim that she had been perceived to be a drug addict by her employer. Demastus v. University Health System, Inc., No. E2016-00375-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. of Appeals March 2, 2017). Laura Lee … Continue Reading

Court Upholds Dismissal of Employee Based on Refusal to Submit to Reasonable Suspicion Drug Test

The highest court in West Virginia recently affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit in which an employee challenged the decision to terminate her employment after she refused to submit to a reasonable suspicion drug test. Layne v. Kanawha County Board of Education, No. 16-0407 (W.VA. Feb. 17, 2017).  The case highlights the right way to … Continue Reading

Refusal to Submit to Drug Testing Requires Evidence of Intent, in Kansas Workers’ Compensation Case

An appellate court in Kansas ruled that an insufficient urine specimen, without evidence of intent to thwart the drug test, is not a refusal to submit to a test for purposes of the Workers’ Compensation Act. Byers v. Acme Foundry, 2017 Kan. App. LEXIS 12 (KS. Court of Appeals January 27, 2017). Mr. Byers was … Continue Reading

Case Alleging That Hair Follicle Drug Testing Has Disparate Impact on African-Americans Allowed To Proceed

A municipal employer that conducted hair follicle drug testing on police officers was not entitled to summary judgment on a Title VII disparate impact claim, because a reasonable jury could conclude that an alternative to hair follicle drug testing would have met the employer’s legitimate needs, according to the United States Court of Appeals for … Continue Reading

Federal Court Upholds NLRB Decision Finding That Employee Had Right To Physical Presence of Union Representative Before Consenting To Drug Test

A federal appeals court upheld November 16, 2016 the decision of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that an employer violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act by denying an employee the right to the physical presence of a union representative before consenting to take a drug test, and by discharging him for … Continue Reading

$1.6 Million EEOC Settlement Highlights Dangers of Making Assumptions About Employees’ Use of Medications

The EEOC entered into a Consent Decree on November 15, 2016, settling a case alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act for $1.6 million. The EEOC claimed that the employer took adverse actions against applicants and employees with actual or perceived disabilities on the basis that the employer believed the individuals posed safety threats.  … Continue Reading
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