South Dakota Company Failed to Hire Applicant Because of Prescribed Medication Taken to Treat Her Disability, Federal Agency Charged
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - M.G. Oil Company, doing business as Happy Jack's Casino, has agreed to pay $45,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2016, the agency announced today. M.G. Oil of Rapid City, South Dakota, is also affiliated with Automatic Vendors, the largest vending company in South Dakota; Corner Pantry, a division of convenience stores; and, various other businesses such as casinos, including Happy Jack's in Sioux Falls.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, M.G. Oil withdrew an offer of employment to an applicant for a cashier position at the casino based on a drug test showing the lawful presence of a prescribed medication. M.G. Oil asserted it relied on a third-party testing vendor to inform M.G. Oil that the applicant was taking prescription drugs. M.G. Oil attempted to bring the testing company into this lawsuit but that third-party action was dismissed by the District Court. The complaint also alleged that M.G. Oil maintained an unlawful policy requiring all employees to report prescription and nonprescription medication that they are taking.
The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. M.G. Oil Company d/b/a Happy Jack's, 4:16-cv-04131-KES (D. S.D.) in U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The suit charged that M.G. Oil violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by its failure to hire the applicant and for maintaining an illegal policy relating to reporting prescription drugs. The consent decree settling the suit provides that M.G. Oil will pay the applicant $45,000 and adopt company-wide policies to prevent future hiring issues under the ADA and will only require employees to report prescription medications if M.G. Oil has a "reasonable suspicion" that the medication may affect performance.
"During an investigation of a single applicant who was not hired, the EEOC reviewed M.G. Oil's policies, found a new ADA violation, and now a companywide change will be made that will benefit over one thousand employees," said Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, who managed the federal agency's pre-suit administrative investigation.
Greg Gochanour, the regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District, added, "Employers must follow the law and take steps to ensure that their third-party vendors and independent contractors do the same."
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.