Could the act of requiring your employees to disclose the medications they take violate the Americans with Disabilities Act?
That question came up in a recent Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals case reviewing settlement talks between a company and the EEOC. At the core of the case was the issue of whether a company had gone too far when it terminated an employee for failing to disclose that he was on medications that potentially affected his ability to work.
The employee was a shear operator who had missed several days of work due to back pain. When he came back to work, he admitted to taking medications that he hadn’t disclosed to his supervisor and was terminated. His company, Product Fabricators, had a policy that mandated disclosure of such medications.
The EEOC stepped in and argued that disclosure of such medications was in violation of the ADA, as it could force some employees to reveal illnesses that they wouldn’t want to otherwise disclose.
The EEOC and Product Fabricators eventually entered into settlement agreements, but they had a disagreement as to some of the terms. In particular, the parties disagreed on a clause that allowed the EEOC to monitor Product Fabricators for two years to ensure that they were dropping their drug policy.
The company said that the agency had gone too far. The trial court agreed with Product Fabricators.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s ruling, however, finding that the EEOC was well within its rights, as the drug policy had larger implications than just one employee alone.