In Baltimore, Maryland, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that Volvo Group North America, LLC, will pay $70,000 as well as furnish significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability case.
According to the suit filed by the EEOC, Volvo Group North America LLC, made a conditional job offer to a qualified applicant- who also happened to be a recovering drug addict that was enrolled in a supervised medication-assisted treatment program- for a position as a laborer at it’s Hagerstown, Maryland, facility. The applicant explained to doctors during his post-offer physical examination that he was taking the prescription drug Suboxone (buprenorphine-naloxone).
- Buprenorphine is the primary active ingredient in SUBOXONE Film. By attaching to the same receptors as other opioids, it can help to suppress withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings
- Naloxone is included to help prevent misuse. If you are dependent on a full opioid agonist and attempt to inject SUBOXONE Film, the naloxone is likely to cause withdrawal signs and symptoms
Volvo failed to conduct an individualized assessment of the applicant to determine what effect if any, the Suboxone had on his ability to perform the duties of the job. When the applicant returned for his first day of work, Volvo informed him that could not offer him a job due to his Suboxone use, according to the EEOC. If proven to be true, such conduct would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on a disability. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act specifically permits employers to ensure that the workplace is free from the illegal use of drugs and the use of alcohol and to comply with other federal laws and regulations regarding drug and alcohol use. At the same time, the ADA provides limited protection from discrimination for recovering drug abusers and for alcoholics. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Volvo Group North America, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-02889) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $70,000 in monetary relief to the applicant, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Volvo from violating the ADA in the future. Volvo will distribute to all employees at its Hagerstown facility and ADA policy explaining the right to a reasonable accommodation for a disability unless it would pose an undue hardship. Volvo will amend its policy on post-offer medical and drug evaluations to explain how it will assess whether an employee’s or applicant’s lawful use of prescription medication poses a direct threat as defined by the ADA, including providing a reasonable accommodation as required by the ADA. Volvo will also provide ADA training, including on how the law relates to drug screening and the use of lawfully prescribed medications. Volvo will report to the EEOC on how it handles any complaints of disability discrimination and post a notice regarding the settlement.
“Employers should make hiring decisions based on the qualifications of an applicant, not his disability or participation in a medically supervised treatment program,” said EEOC Philadelphia District Office Director Jamie R. Williamson”.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence, added, “We appreciate that Volvo worked with the EEOC to resolve this case fairly, expeditiously and without incurring unnecessary litigation expenses. This settlement is designed to help ensure that all applicants and employees are protected from disability discrimination.”
The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is one of four offices in the Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington, D.C., and parts of Virginia.
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