Thursday, March 30, 2017

Employee's Case Remanded by 10th Circuit Over Employer's Monthly Drug Test and Disclosure of Prescription Medications Requirement

The Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit last month issued a 20+ page opinion mostly dismissing a former FedEx employee's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ERISA claim, but remanded the employee's disability-related inquiry claim back to the district court because the lower district court failed to address it in summary judgment.

A plaintiff asserting an unlawful medical examination and disability-related inquiry under 42 U.S.C. section 12112(d)(4)(A) must show (1) that he is an employee of the defendant-employer, and (2) that the defendant-employer required him to undergo a medical examination or made a disability-related inquiry of him.  This provision applies to all employees, and a plaintiff need not prove that he is disabled.  Even if the plaintiff makes the required showing, the employer may avoid liability by demonstrating that the medical examination or disability-related inquiry was job-related and consistent with business necessity.

The plaintiff in this case, Steven Williams, claims FedEx violated this ADA provision when it required him to submit to monthly drug tests and to disclose his use of legally-prescribed medications.  The 10th Circuit made it clear that a test for "illegal use of drugs" is NOT considered a medical examination under the ADA, but noted FedEx did more than merely subject Mr. Williams to mandatory drug testing as they also required him to disclose his use of legally-prescribed medications.  The 10th Circuit then noted that they have recognized that requiring disclosure of prescription drugs MAY violate section 12112(d)(4)(A).

However, the lower district court did not address this issue of whether FedEx improperly required Mr. Williams to disclose his use of legally-prescribed drugs, and, thus, this part of Mr. Williams' complaint was remanded so that it may be addressed.  The Court instructed the lower court to make this analysis of whether there exists a genuine issue of fact for trial concerning Mr. Williams' allegation that FedEx improperly required him to disclose his use of prescription drugs by considering whether FedEx implemented its purported disclosure requirement to learn whether Mr. Williams was suffering from any health defects, or for some other business purpose.  If the purpose was to uncover health defects, this goes against what section 12112(d)(4)(A) was designed to prevent.

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