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Press Release 08-30-2021

Dragon Rig / The Modern Group Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Industrial Equipment and Services Companies Refused to Hire Worker Because of Medical Treatment for Anxiety and Opioid Addiction, Federal Agency Says

HOUSTON – Industrial equipment and services companies The Modern Group, Ltd. and Beaumont, Texas-based Dragon Rig Sales and Service, LLC violated federal law when Dragon Rig refused to hire a job applicant because of his use of prescription medication to treat his anxiety and opioid addiction disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on Aug. 19. The companies operate as integrated enterprise, the EEOC says.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the applicant applied for a welding job at Dragon Rig’s Victoria, Texas facility. He had worked without incident as a welder for 13 years. Throughout those 13 years, he had taken prescription medication to treat his anxiety. For many of those years, he had also been in recovery for opioid addiction, taking medication prescribed and monitored by a medication-assisted treatment program, the EEOC said.

After assessing his qualifications and work experience, Dragon Rig offered the applicant a job conditioned on his passing a pre-employment drug test, the EEOC said. The applicant provided the drug testing facility copies of his prescriptions and he passed the drug test. Nevertheless, the facility’s medical review officer informed Dragon Rig of the applicant’s medication use and stated that the medication could impair his ability to perform the job and operate equipment safely. The EEOC reported that without conducting any further inquiry, discussion, or assessment of the applicant’s ability to perform the job, the defendant companies withdrew the employment offer. Dragon Rig’s operations manager told the applicant “If you get off that s***, I’ll hire you,” the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits disability discrimination in employment, including disqualifying a disabled worker for taking prescription medication used to treat his disabilities when the treatment does not create a risk of substantial harm to the health and safety of the worker or others. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division (Civil Action No. 1:21-cv-00451) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.   

“Misconceptions and stereotypes about workers receiving treatment for mental impairments and opioid addiction continue to prevent them from gaining employment for which they are fully qualified and able to perform safely,” said EEOC Houston Office Regional Attorney Rudy Sustaita. “With this lawsuit, the EEOC aims to send a clear message to employers that it is illegal to base a hiring decision on unsubstantiated assumptions about a disabled worker’s potential job performance while using prescribed medication.”

Houston District Director Rayford O. Irvin added, “Enforcement of the ADA is a top priority of this agency. The EEOC will aggressively investigate, and, if necessary, prosecute employers that violate the law and limit employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.”

The lawsuit was commenced by the EEOC’s Houston District Office which has jurisdiction over East and Southeast Texas and the State of Louisiana.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at  Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.