Archives: Litigation and Other Proceedings

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Termination For Conduct Caused By Side Effects of Prescription Medication Was Not Disability Discrimination

A federal court in Florida has upheld an employee’s termination due to her “inebriated” conduct that was caused by her use of prescription medications, holding that her discharge did not constitute disability discrimination. Caporicci v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., Case No. 8-14-cv-2131-T-36EAJ (M.D. Fla. May 27, 2016). Lisa Caporicci worked for Chipotle as a crew … Continue Reading

Failure to Hire DOT Driver After Positive Drug Test Result Leads To ADA Claim

A South Carolina company that hauls gasoline, diesel fuel and ethanol throughout the country will face an Americans with Disabilities Act suit brought by a rejected DOT driver applicant with a sleep disorder for which he was prescribed an amphetamine (Dexedrine), the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond has decided, reversing a lower’s court’s dismissal … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Employee Proceeds With Invasion of Privacy Claim Arising Out Of Positive Drug Test Result

A federal court in Pennsylvania has allowed an employee to proceed with a wrongful discharge/invasion of privacy claim related to her discharge after a positive drug test result. Wilkinson v. Marvin E. Klinger, Inc., Case No. 4:15-cv-01916, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58340 (M.D. PA. May 3, 2016). Plaintiff, a 58-year old school bus driver, was … Continue Reading

Three-Year Statute of Limitations Applies To Violations of Rhode Island Drug Testing Law

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has held that a three-year statute of limitations applies to claims alleging violations of the employer drug testing statute in that state. Goddard v. APG Sec.-RI, LLC, No. 2014-239-Appeal (R.I. Mar. 7, 2016). Rhode Island’s employer drug testing statute provides employees with a right to be free from drug tests … Continue Reading

Minnesota Drug Testing Law Applies Where Minnesota Resident Was Hired to Work in Another State

A federal appeals court in Minnesota has held that the Minnesota drug testing statute applies to an applicant tested in Minnesota, even though the applicant was being hired for a job in another state.  Olson v. Push, Inc., No. 14-3160 (8th Cir. Feb. 22, 2016). Push, Inc., a Wisconsin corporation, hired Olson, a Minnesota resident, … Continue Reading

Employee’s ADA Claim Advanced Due To Supervisor’s Alleged Demand That Employee Admit To Substance Abuse Problem

An employee who was allegedly fired for refusing to admit he had a substance abuse problem presented sufficient evidence to advance his claim under the “regarded as” prong of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a Massachusetts federal court. The employer denied terminating the employee or demanding that he admit having a substance abuse … Continue Reading

Lack of Clarity in Employer’s Drug Testing Policy Results in Remand to Trial Court in Unemployment Compensation Case

Although an employee clearly refused a drug test under an employer’s drug and alcohol policy, an appellate court in Alabama remanded the case to the trial court because the employer’s policy did not clearly define the testing methods to be utilized, which was an important component of determining the employee’s eligibility for unemployment benefits. Austal … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Permission For Lawsuit Seeking to Invalidate Colorado’s Legalization Of Marijuana

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a motion filed by the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma for leave to file a complaint against the state of Colorado, challenging that State’s legalization of marijuana. The Supreme Court denied the motion without opinion or explanation on March 21, 2016. In December 2014, Nebraska and Oklahoma moved for leave … Continue Reading

Employee Terminated Upon Return to Work After Alcohol Treatment Could Proceed With Claims Against Employer

An employee terminated immediately upon his return from medical leave for alcohol rehabilitation presented sufficient evidence of discrimination under the Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Ohio state law to present his case to a jury, according to a federal court in Ohio. The employer claimed that the employee had been … Continue Reading

Employer’s Reliance On Positive Alcohol Test Was Legitimate and Non-Discriminatory Basis For Termination

An employer’s reliance on a positive alcohol test was held to be a legitimate and non-discriminatory basis for termination, despite the terminated employee’s argument that the test result was inaccurate.  Clark v. Boyd Tunica, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35223 (N.D.  Miss. March 1, 2016). Plaintiff, a line cook at Boyd Tunica, Inc., underwent a … Continue Reading

New Mexico Court Holds Employers Need Not Accommodate Medical Marijuana Use

A federal court in New Mexico dismissed the lawsuit of an employee who was fired after testing positive for marijuana, even though he used medical marijuana in accordance with state law. Garcia v. Tractor Supply Company, No. 15-cv-00735 (D.N.M. Jan. 7, 2016). The Court held that the employer did not violate New Mexico law or … Continue Reading

U.S. Opposes Lawsuit By States Seeking To Overturn Colorado Legalization of Marijuana

The U.S. Solicitor General filed a brief  in the U.S. Supreme Court December 16, 2015 opposing Nebraska and Oklahoma’s challenge to Colorado’s legalization of marijuana. Last December, the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a motion in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking permission to file suit against the state of Colorado, arguing that Colorado’s legalization of marijuana is … Continue Reading

Washington Court Dismisses Medical Marijuana Claims Asserted by Employee

Another Washington court has held that an employer lawfully may terminate an employee for using marijuana, even when the employee had a prescription and used it off-duty. Swaw v. Safeway, Inc., No. C15-939 (W.D. Wash. Nov. 20, 2015). After a workplace injury, Safeway tested its employee, Swaw, for drugs. Swaw tested positive for marijuana due … Continue Reading

FMLA and ADA Claims Dismissed Where Employee Became Intoxicated and Was Arrested for DUI While Out On FMLA Leave

An employee who took time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and then proceeded to become highly intoxicated –resulting in his arrest for driving while intoxicated—could not show that his termination constituted FMLA interference, FMLA retaliation or a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Capps v. Mondelez Global LLC, Case No. 14-CV-04331 … Continue Reading

Deaf Employee Who Was Fired For Positive Drug Test Result Could Not Show Disability Discrimination

A deaf employee who tested positive for hydrocodone – but could not produce a prescription for the drug – was not discriminated against due to his disability when his employer fired him.  Phillips v. PPG Industries, Inc., Case No. 5:14-CV-1274 (N.D. Alabama Nov. 24, 2015). Phillips was employed as a “finisher” in a manufacturing facility … Continue Reading

Employee Termination Upheld Due To Failure To Comply with Employer’s Prescription Medication Policy

A federal court in Utah upheld the termination of an employee who did not disclose his use of prescription medication in accordance with his employer’s policy.  Angel v. Lisbon Valley Mining Co., Case No. 2:14-CV-00733 (D. Utah Nov. 23, 2015). Angel was employed as a haul truck driver at Lisbon Valley Mining Co., a copper … Continue Reading

EEOC Sues Employer Who Allegedly Refused to Hire Methadone User

In the last three years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed numerous lawsuits against employers who take adverse actions against applicants and employees who use prescription medications. In accordance with that trend, EEOC filed suit on November 3, 2015 against an employer who purportedly refused to hire a recovering drug addict using methadone, alleging … Continue Reading

Employee Failed to Show that Positive Drug Test Result For Barbiturates Was Discriminatory

A federal court in Georgia rejected an employee’s claim that his termination after a positive drug test result for barbiturates was discriminatory.  Roman v. Leggett and Platt, Inc., Case No. 3:14-CV-20 (M.D. Ga. Nov. 3, 2015). Roman worked in a safety-sensitive position and was subject to random drug testing.  He tested positive for phenobarbital, which … Continue Reading

Drug and Alcohol Testing May Contribute to Joint Employer Finding By NLRB

We have written previously about the National Labor Relation Board’s 3-2 decision in Browning-Ferris of California, Inc., 362 NLRB No. 186 (August 27, 2015), increasing the likelihood the Board may find two employers to be “joint employers,” and thereby share many collective bargaining responsibilities as well as liability for each other’s violations of the National … Continue Reading

Reasonable Suspicion Alcohol Test of Employee Was Justified After Bar Fight and Diagnosis of Alcoholic Pancreatitis

Reasonable suspicion alcohol testing of a safety-sensitive employee who was injured in a bar fight and who took medical leave for “acute alcoholic pancreatitis” was upheld by a federal court in Indiana, even though the testing did not take place until the employee returned to work after his medical leave ended. Foos v. Taghleef Industries, … Continue Reading

Pre-Offer Drug Tests Were Not Impermissible Medical Examinations Under The ADA, Court Holds

Pre-offer drug tests to determine the use of illegal drugs did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act’s prohibition on pre-offer medical inquiries, a federal court in Pennsylvania held on September 15, 2015. EEOC v. Grane Healthcare Co. et ano, CV No. 3:10-250 (W.D. Pa. Sept. 15, 2015). The Court previously held, for purposes of … Continue Reading

NLRB Says Beer Dealer’s Refusal-To-Drug-Test Firing Doesn’t Mix With “Weingarten Rights”

Brewing more trouble for workplace drug testing, the National Labor Relations Board has held a New York beer distributor violated the National Labor Relations Act by denying its driver helper, who reported to work with his clothes “reek[ing] of the smell of marijuana” and with “glassy” and “bloodshot” eyes, and was directed to take a drug test … Continue Reading

Federal Court Finds “Field Preemption” of Minnesota Drug Testing Statute

It has long been recognized that federal regulations mandating drug testing for certain employees in safety-sensitive industries preempt contrary provisions in Minnesota’s state drug testing law known as “DATWA” (Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act). But some Minnesota practitioners have argued for years that employee protections in DATWA should not be preempted if … Continue Reading

Minnesota Court of Appeals Provides Helpful Roadmap For Employers Who Conduct Drug Testing

The Minnesota Court of Appeals handed employers a rare win under the Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (“DATWA”), upholding dismissal of a wrongful discharge case after an employee who tested positive for drugs did not comply with the recommended treatment because he wanted to choose a different treatment program. Jones v. … Continue Reading
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