PHOENIX (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced a lawsuit against Bell-Arrow
Automotive Inc., which does business as Bell Lexus, for allegations of
violating federal law.
According to EEOC, the company maintained a policy of
refusing applicants who tested positive for any one of a number of substances
on a list it created. Bell Lexus allegedly rescinded a job offer to Sara
Thorholm after she tested positive for a single substance – even though she
explained it was medically prescribed to treat a disability, the EEOC says.
She went as
far as to offer to switch medications but the company purportedly refused both
her offer of proof and her offer to change medications, the EEOC claims.
"Even when drug tests are permitted under the ADA, they
cannot be used to discriminate against qualified people with disabilities,"
said EEOC Phoenix regional attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. "Companies need to
be mindful that they may need to make exceptions to drug use policies as a
EEOC seeks monetary damages for Thorholm, including back
pay, compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages. It will also
seek injunctive relief.
"Employers must maintain responsible hiring practices
and be understanding about their employees' backgrounds,” EEOC Phoenix acting district director Elizabeth Cadle said. "A blanket exclusion policy based on
drug use does not accomplish that goal, and may cause problems for the employer
if it applies such a policy."