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No Need to Accommodate “Disabled” Worker Who Misses Mandatory Drug Test

December 22, 2014
Source: Business Management Daily

Employees who are not qualified for their jobs cannot claim ADA protection based on disability. And when a disabled employee has a position that is covered by Depart¬¬ment of Transportation (DOT) federal drug testing requirements and refuses a drug test, he is automatically unqualified because DOT regulations require his sus¬¬pension.

Recent case: Patrick worked as a city bus department transit manager. His job required him to perform safety-sensitive functions like controlling the dispatch and movement of vehicles. The job was covered by DOT drug-testing regulations. One day, the city ordered Patrick to report for a random drug screen by close of business.

Patrick did not show; he later claimed he forgot. He was immediately suspended and told to test again the following day. He was also told that he had to have a clear report from a substance abuse professional saying he could perform safety-sensitive functions, plus a clean drug screen, before returning to work. He eventually got both.

But then he sued, alleging that he had been discriminated against because of a disability.

The court tossed out the case, noting that he was not a qualified person with a disability since he had refused the drug test. A refusal, even if he had “forgotten” to show up, meant that under federal DOT regulations, he was barred from performing his job. That made him unqualified. (Leaumont v. City of Alexandria, No. 14-30330, 5th Cir., 2014)

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