Drug testing is an important safety measure for many companies, especially manufacturing firms. But as one company found out — through a nasty hit to its checkbook — it’s possible to take a good idea too far.
A Michigan-based automotive parts company will pay $750,000 to settle an ADA lawsuit alleging the firm overstepped legal bounds in its drug testing policy.
According to the EEOC, Dura Automotive Systems tested all the employees in its Lawrenceburg, TN plant for 12 substances.
Five of the drugs tested for were illegal controlled substances, the EEOC said, but the other seven were legal medications that were lawfully prescribed for the individuals taking them.
Dura required those employees who tested positive for legally prescribed medications to disclose the medical conditions for which they were taking prescription medications, the agency said, and told the workers they’d have to quit taking the medications or lose their jobs.
The company didn’t offer any evidence that the medications were affecting the employees’ job performances.
The company then suspended employees until they stopped taking their prescription medications, and fired those who were unable to perform their job duties without the benefit of their prescriptions.
Finally, the EEOC said, “Dura conducted the drug tests in such a manner as to disclose to its entire work force the identities of those who tested positive.”
All the organization’s actions constituted a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the EEOC claimed. After the “conciliation” attempt failed, EEOC filed suit in federal court.
Dura finally agreed to settle the case for $750,000, change its drug testing policies and provide new training for managers on the legal requirements and limitations covered in the ADA.