EEOC: Employers cannot discriminate against methadone users

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a hand draws the chemical image of methadoneThe Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently sued a Baltimore-based labor agency, for refusing to hire a job applicant solely on the basis that she is prescribed methadone.

“Medically prescribed methadone is a common and safe treatment for people recovering from drug addiction,” EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence said in a news release. “The Commission will take action if an employer refuses to hire a qualified applicant based on unwarranted or speculative fears or biases about her disability or her medically supervised drug rehabilitation.”

April Cox has been free of her heroin addiction for at least four years, as a result of her medically supervised methadone program.

In January  she applied for a vacant labor position with Randstand. After taking a urine sample, she informed the site manager that she uses methadone. The manager allegedly responded, “I’m sure we don’t hire people on methadone, but I will contact my supervisor,” according to the news release.

When Cox called back to inform the company that methadone did not create any medical restrictions on her ability to perform the position, Randstand allegedly informed her they would not hire due because of the methadone.

As the EEOC sees it, Randstand’s conduct violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Ms. Cox was well qualified for the production laborer job and has worked hard to overcome her addiction,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. said in a news release, dated November 3, “Randstad violated federal law when it ignored her qualifications and refused to hire her simply because she is a recovering drug addict.”