Best Ohio Disability Discrimination Attorney Answer: Does my current use of methadone constitute using an illegal drug that can prevent me from getting a job? How do I get a disability accommodation at work? Am I considered disabled if I am a recovering heroin addict?
As our employment discrimination attorneys have blogged about, all employees are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA“) and Ohio’s R.C. § 4112.02(A) from being discriminated against or retaliated against by their employers on the basis of their actual or perceived disability. In addition to preventing wrongful termination based on disability discrimination, these laws also prohibit employers from discriminating against a job applicant based on a disability. (See; Is It Disability Discrimination If My Job Will Not Accommodate My Anti-Social Disorder?; Can My Boss Fire Deaf People As A Safety Precaution? I Need A Lawyer!).
Moreover, The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who, either with or without such accommodations, are qualified to “perform the essential functions of the employment position.” (See Top Disability Discrimination Lawyer Reply: How Do I Get A Disability Accommodation At Work?; Top Disability Discrimination Lawyer Reply: Can I Bring A Service Dog To Work As A Disability Accommodation Under The ADA?; Disability Discrimination: Is Late Arrival A Reasonable ADA Accommodation?).
A particularly prevalent issue that we see at The Spitz Law Firm is employees that are being discriminated against due to being a recovering drug addict. (See Is Alcoholism A Disability Under The ADA?; Is Drug and Alcohol Addiction Covered By the ADA?). The ADA is very clear that a past addiction to drugs and/or alcohol is a covered disability and an employer cannot discriminate against an employee simply because they have a history of drug addiction. It is also well established that current illegal drug use by an employee is usually not grounds for protection under the ADA.
However, a less than clear issue involving drug addiction and the ADA is whether or not an employee currently using methadone is entitled to protection under the ADA if that employee is using methadone to treat a heroin or other narcotic drug addiction. A recent disability discrimination lawsuit filed in the United State District Court for the District of Maryland is worth monitoring because the issue of current methadone use and the protection afforded under the ADA is far less certain than the protection afforded to a past drug addict not using prescription methadone.
April Cox is a recovering heroin addict who has been in a supervised treatment program since 2011. A main component of Cox’s treatment is the use of methadone. Methadone is a synthetic opioid that can be used as a pain medication but is most commonly used to help people who are addicted to more powerful and dangerous opioids, such as heroin. Cox underwent monthly counseling and urine tests as part of her treatment along with methadone.
In January of this year, Cox sought a job as a production laborer at Randstad. Cox was asked to take a pre-employment drug test and at this point, Cox disclosed that she was currently in a methadone treatment plan and offered to provide Randstad with proof of her treatment. Instead of treating Cox in a respectful and understanding manner, a manager at Randstad simply said, “I’m sure we don’t hire people on methadone, but I will contact my supervisor.” Cox provided Randstad with all pertinent treatment information, including that her only restrictions as a result of her treatment were that she could not work as a truck driver or airline pilot due to federal regulations.
Randstad completely disregarded the fact that Cox could perform all essential functions of her job with or without an accommodation and simply denied Cox the opportunity to be hired. Cox never ended up taking a drug test and was told that Randstad could not hire her due to her methadone use.
There is little question of whether or not Cox is considered disabled under the ADA as she is a recovered substance abuser. However, this lawsuit is expected to clear up some less than settled aspects of the ADA when it comes to recovered substance abusers. Namely, because Methadone is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substance Act, it is perfectly legal if it is prescribed by a doctor. Thus, Randstad would be unable to argue that they were entitled to denying Cox a job because of current illegal drug use. On the other hand, there is evidence that Methadone has a substantial potential for abuse even when taking it as part of an addiction treatment program. Would an employer be able to deny someone a position due to Methadone use because of the chance that the drug will be abused?
While The Spitz Law Firm monitors this latest development in Disability Discrimination law, you absolutely should not wait to contact an experienced employment attorney if you are being discriminated against due to Methadone use or past drug addiction.
Having to live with a disability is difficult enough without worrying about the effect it may have on your job. If you are disabled or your employer perceives you as being disabled; and you have been fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied wages, or even think that you might need a disability discrimination lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Call our Ohio employment law attorneys at 866-797-6040. The best option is not to wait. The Spitz Law Firm, and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting disabled employees’ rights under ADA and Ohio employment law.
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