Residential Health Facility Rescinded Employment Offer When a Drug Screen Revealed an Applicant's Legally Prescribed Medication
MILWAUKEE - An Oconomowoc, Wis., inpatient residential health facility violated federal law when it rescinded an applicant's job offer because she tested positive for a prescribed medication, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. Rogers Behavioral Health provides treatment for various conditions including addiction, anxiety, depression, mood disorders and general mental health.
The EEOC's investigation revealed that Rogers offered the applicant a position as an intake specialist. As part of her pre-employment requirements, Rogers instructed her to have a physical and a drug screen. At her physical, she disclosed that she had a prescription for Alprazolam, the generic form of Xanax, a medication commonly prescribed for anxiety. She also disclosed other medical impairments that she had. She also provided a sample for her drug screen.
Noble Diagnostics, a third-party administrator of workplace drug and alcohol tests, performed the drug screen, which showed that the applicant tested positive for Alprazolam. The doctor who performed the physical indicated on the physical examination form that she had reviewed the applicant's drug screen and found her medically acceptable for work as an intake specialist.
Rogers failed to contact the applicant or give her the opportunity to provide additional prescription information to contest the drug screen. Rogers withdrew the job offer from the applicant by email without explaining the decision was related to her drug screen. The EEOC said that Rogers rescinded the offer because it regarded the applicant as disabled, a conclusion it reached because of her drug screen.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived disability. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Rogers Behavioral Health, Civil Action No. 19-cv-00935) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on June 27 after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation resolution through its conciliation process.
The case has been assigned to Magistrate Judge Nancy Joseph. The EEOC is seeking full relief, including reinstatement, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct Rogers's practices going forward.
"Rogers Behavioral Health cannot hide its discriminatory intent behind a complicated pre-employment process," said Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District Office. "The plain fact is that Rogers knows Alprazolam is a common prescription medication, and that rather than acknowledging the prescription information already disclosed or giving the applicant the opportunity to correct her drug screen, it chose to rescind her job offer because it did not want to hire an employee whom it regarded as disabled."
Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC's Chicago District Office, said "When employers like Rogers Behavioral Health reject qualified candidates who they believe have disabilities, they not only harm those candidates, they deprive the national economy of the valuable contributions those candidates can make."
The EEOC's Chicago District is responsible for investigating charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of the agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota, with area offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.