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 Bell Lexus allegedly rescinded a job offer to Sara Thorholm after she tested positive for a single substance – even though she explained it was medically prescribed to treat a disability,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 reasonable accommodation."


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."

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