Shirley v. Precision Castparts Corp., No. H-11-581 (S.D. Tex. 07/03/12).
The U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas granted summary judgment to an employer on an operator's claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
What it means:
According to this court, the ADA's definition of an employee with a disability does not include an individual engaging in the illegal misuse of prescription painkillers.
Summary: An extrusion press operator sustained work-related injuries that caused him pain. He was prescribed Vicodin for pain management. He ultimately received multiple prescriptions for Vicodin from different doctors without informing each doctor about his other prescriptions. Later, he became concerned about his Vicodin usage and requested time off from work to obtain medical treatment. He entered a treatment facility but was discharged early at his own request. The employer informed him that leaving treatment before completion was grounds for termination under the employer's drug-free workplace policy. The operator reentered treatment but checked out the next day. The employer terminated him. The operator sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family and Medical Leave Act. The U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas granted summary judgment to the employer.
The court explained that the operator was not entitled to ADA protection because he was illegally using prescription drugs by obtaining multiple Vicodin prescriptions. Even if he was not engaging in the illegal use of drugs at the time of his termination, he was initially checked into treatment 11 days before. Also, he admitted that he continued to take Vicodin for one year after his termination. The court said that the operator's treatment by his physician at the time of his termination was not enough to trigger ADA protections.
The operator also argued that the employer violated the FMLA when it failed to reinstate his previous position after he was cleared to return to work by his physician. The court explained that the restoration of his employment was contingent on his completion of rehabilitation treatment, pursuant to the employer's policy. Terminating the operator pursuant to the policy was not an FMLA violation.
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October 18, 2012
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