Every Employee Required to Tell Boss of Every Medicine That 'Could' Affect Job, Federal Agency Charges
DALLAS - Dallas-based Oncor Electric Delivery Company, LLC violated federal law by terminating a data entry clerk who would not agree to abide by a medication disclosure policy that oversteps employees' rights, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today in federal court. The employee was required to sign a document promising to reveal all medications that "could" affect her job performance. When she refused, she was sent home and ultimately received a termination letter in the mail, the EEOC said.
According to the EEOC's suit, Delores McCraney, who had been on medical leave for carpal tunnel syndrome, was confronted with a "Return to Work Agreement" when she reported back to work. The "agreement," which reflects a companywide policy that every Oncor employee must follow, required that the employee report to her supervisor each and every medication she is taking, over the counter and prescribed, that "could" affect her work performance. McCraney felt that requiring her to sign such an agreement was a violation of her rights. In addition to requiring that all such medications be disclosed to management, all Oncor employees can only take the medication if the supervisor "clears" it first.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability in the workplace. The EEOC investigated the case and then filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, Civil Action No. 3:18-CV-01786-C, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In this case, the EEOC seeks back pay, plus compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief, including an order barring similar violations in the future.
"Before the ADA was enacted decades ago, employees could be asked any medical question at all, and then be fired for the response if the company simply didn't want a person with even a possible disability on board," said EEOC Trial Attorney Toby Wosk Costas. "That was then, this is now. Congress told the nation, in enacting the ADA, that employees are protected from this kind of medical inquiry since it can reveal a hidden disability that there is simply no need to disclose."
Robert A. Canino, regional attorney for the EEOC's Dallas District Office, added, "Blanket requirements of disclosure like the one presented here result in unlawful overreaching, eliciting information about an employee's disabilities that may not otherwise be disclosed. By so broadly inventorying and examining medications, an employer ignores prohibitions in the federal law against eliciting information about a worker's health."
The EEOC's Dallas District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Texas and parts of New Mexico.
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.