Employer Resolves Allegations It Terminated Employee for Medication-Assisted Drug Treatment

May 21, 2018

Foothills Child Development Center, Inc, will pay $5,000 to a former employee and modify its employment policies to settle allegations that the South Carolina corporation that owns and operates a preschool in Easley, South Carolina, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it fired the employee after he disclosed his participation in a supervised medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program.

Foothills hired the employee as an afterschool teacher at the preschool. When he was hired, the employee purportedly disclosed his prior opiate addiction and participation in a MAT program, through which he was legally prescribed the drug Suboxone as part of his treatment. Foothills allegedly terminated the employee about 30 minutes into his first work day due to his Suboxone use. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) contends that before terminating the employee, Foothills failed to conduct an individualized assessment to help determine what effect, if any, the Suboxone had on the his ability to perform his job duties.

Terms of agreement. EEOC and Foothills reached a resolution of the case before the agency initiated the lawsuit. In addition to the monetary relief for the employee, Foothills entered into a five-year consent decree under which it is required to:

  • Amend its written drug use policy to include a clear and specific exclusion for individuals who use legally obtained prescription medication in a lawfully prescribed manner;
  • Create an ADA-compliant procedure for conducting an individualized assessment of an employee who is enrolled in any form of alcohol, drug, or illegal substance rehabilitation program in order to determine whether the individual can safely perform the essential functions of her/his position with or without reasonable accommodation;
  • Provide annual training on the requirements of the ADA and its prohibition against discrimination and retaliation in the workplace; and
  • Report to the EEOC the identities of all applicants who were denied employment and employees who were terminated due to current or past alcohol, drug, or substance use.