Company Made Illegal Medical Inquiries and Medical Exams, Violated Confidentiality Requirements, Federal Agency Charged
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Michigan-based automotive parts company will pay $750,000 and furnish other relief to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the agency announced today.
According to the EEOC's suit (Civil Action No. 1:09-cv-00059), filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Dura Automotive Systems, Inc. tested all of its Lawrenceburg, Tenn., plant employees in May 2007 for 12 substances, including certain legally prescribed drugs, in violation of the ADA. 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.
Further, the EEOC alleged that Dura required those employees who tested positive for legally prescribed medications to disclose the medical conditions for which they were taking prescription medications, and made it a condition of employment that the employees cease taking their prescription medications, without any evidence that the medications were affecting the employees' job performances. According to the EEOC, Dura 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 prescription medications. Moreover, 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 this alleged conduct violates various provisions of the ADA, the EEOC charged. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.
Besides the monetary settlement of $750,000, the four-year consent decree settling the lawsuit includes terms that:
"This agency will continue to enforce the ADA's prohibitions against illegal medical inquiries and examinations of employees where they are not job-related and consistent with business necessity," said Faye A. Williams, the EEOC's regional attorney for the Memphis District. "The EEOC's Guidance on Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examination of Employees provides that asking an employee whether he or she is currently taking any prescription medications may be considered a medical inquiry."
According to company information, Dura, headquartered in Rochester Hills, Mich., is a global provider of parts for automotive and specialty vehicles. It has approximately 11,000 employees at 35 manufacturing facilities worldwide, including its facility in Lawrenceburg.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.