- An employer's policy that employees must agree to provide a list of medications that could affect their job performance has led to the business paying $50,000 to settle an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- Dallas-based Oncor Electric Delivery Company agreed to the settlement over the firing of a representative with 13 years on the job after she refused to sign an agreement that stated she would notify her supervisor about all the medications she was taking that could have an impact onher job performance, including dosages and changes of dosages. In a statement announcing the settlement, the EEOC said the “broad requirement violated the prohibition against medical inquires of employees” under the ADA.
- The company also agreed to monetary relief, to provide its revised policy to all employees and annual training on medication disclosure rules, to provide a way to report violations and to warn of discipline for any manager continuing the old policy.
The EEOC has said policies requiring employees to disclose their use of prescription medications are unlawful under the ADA. Inquiries about employees' medications are permitted, but only in limited circumstances, including positions that affect public safety and only where the employer can demonstrate that an employee’s impaired ability to perform the job will result in a direct threat.
The federal agency explained in a guidance that a police department can require armed officers to report when they are taking medications that may affect their ability to use a firearm or to perform other essential functions of their job, and an airline can require its pilots to report when they are taking any medications that may impair their ability to fly.
However, a fire department cannot require employees whose job duties are limited to administrative tasks to report their use of medications because it is unlikely that the fire department could show that the employees would pose a direct threat as a result of inability or impaired ability to perform their essential job functions.
In addition, federal law requires employers to try to accommodate qualified individuals with disabilities who are properly using prescription medications. An employer may conclude that an accommodation poses a direct threat to safety or places an undue hardship on the business, but these are difficult legal standards to meet.
Employers should revise workplace policies that require all employees to disclose their prescription medication use and train managers and supervisors on the state and federal laws that provide protection to employees who use prescription drugs.