Temporary Agency Refused Job to Laborer Because She Was in a Medically Supervised Drug Rehabilitation Program, Federal Agency Charged
BALTIMORE - Baltimore-based temporary labor agency Randstad, US, LP, will pay $50,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
EEOC said that after April Cox applied with Randstad in Timonium, Md., for a vacant production laborer position at one of the staffing agency's clients, Randstad deemed her qualified to advance to the next part of the hiring process. When Randstad's site manager asked Cox to provide a urine sample for a pre-employment drug test, Cox disclosed that she was in a medically supervised methadone treatment program. The site manager told Cox, "I'm sure we don't hire people on methadone, but I will contact my supervisor," according to the suit. EEOC charged that even though Cox repeatedly called back and informed the site manager that she did not have any medical restrictions from performing the laborer job, Randstad told Cox it would not hire her because she used methadone.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits disability discrimination. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Randstad, US, LP, Civil Action No.RDB-15-3354) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"While employers may conduct pre-employment drug tests for illegal drug use, medically prescribed methadone is a well-known and effective treatment for individuals recovering from drug addiction," EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. said. "Thus, employers violate the ADA if they refuse to hire a qualified applicant based on fears or stereotypes about an applicant's disability or medically supervised drug rehabilitation."
In addition to the $50,000 in monetary relief to Cox, the 18-month consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Randstad from violating the ADA in the future. Randstad will advise all employees responsible for conducting pre-employment drug screenings that applicants shall not be rejected for hire because of a lawful prescribed medication (including methadone) or participation in a treatment program. The company will regularly report to EEOC on its compliance with the consent decree. Randstad will also provide training on the ADA and its protections regarding the use of lawfully prescribed medications and will post a notice about the laws EEOC enforces and the settlement.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, "EEOC is pleased that Randstad worked with us to resolve this matter quickly and satisfactorily. In addition to the monetary relief, the settlement provides important equitable relief, including ADA training and mandatory reporting to EEOC, to protect applicants and employees from disability discrimination."
EEOC's Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in EEOC's Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.