Case name: Parsons v. First Quality Retail Services, LLC, No. 5:10-CV-145 (CAR) (M.D. Ga. 01/20/12).
Ruling: The U.S. District Court, Middle District of Georgia granted summary judgment to a manufacturer on a technician's Americans with Disabilities Act claims.
What it means: Under the ADA, a worker who voluntarily discloses medical information related to a disability generally cannot assert a claim regarding an improper medical inquiry. According to the court, the ADA allows an employer to require that employees report prescription drugs if it is job-related and consistent with business necessity.
Summary: A product technician for a manufacturer injured himself on the job. As a result, he had back problems and received treatment. His doctor prescribed a narcotic pain medication. Following an altercation with a coworker, the technician received a final warning. Later, he approached his supervisor to report that someone had taken 40 tablets of his pain medication at work. Due to his failure to report the medication and his admissions that he had given coworkers some of the pills, the manufacturer terminated him. He sued under the ADA. The court granted summary judgment to the manufacturer, finding that the technician could not establish his failure to accommodate, disability discrimination, and mixed motive claims.
The court determined that the technician did not properly allege a failure to accommodate claim. Although he asserted that allowing him to take his medication "wouldn't cause undue hardship" to the manufacturer, this did not provide notice that he intended to raise a failure to accommodate claim.
The technician's disability discrimination claim also failed. He alleged that the manufacturer's policy requiring employees to report any prescription drug use that could affect work performance was a per se ADA violation. The court read his complaint to allege that the policy was an improper medical inquiry. Because the technician "vehemently" argued that he voluntarily reported his medication to his supervisors, the court rejected this argument. The court reasoned that requiring employees to report prescription drugs would trigger ADA protections if it was not job-related and consistent with business necessity.
Also, the technician could not establish pretext, and this defeated his mixed motive argument. The court explained that the manufacturer presented legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for his termination, and he did not show that the manufacturer believed these reasons to be untrue.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
March 19, 2012
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