EEOC settles for $45,000 with two Arizona companies over drug policies

By Mark Iandolo | Jun 12, 2017

PHOENIX (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced June 8 that two Scottsdale, Arizona, companies will pay $45,000 after allegations of disability discrimination involving pre-employment drug testing policies.

"While drug testing is permitted in some contexts, it cannot be used to discriminate against people with disabilities," said EEOC Phoenix regional attorney Mary Jo O'Neill. "Communicating with job applicants about drug test results before jumping to wrong conclusions is an important part of the interactive process that is required under federal law."

According to the EEOC, an applicant was denied employment at Bell-Arrow Automotive Inc. and Bell Leasing Inc. because of her disability and her need for a reasonable accommodation. The defendants conducted drug testing for new employees, the EEOC said, and they maintained a list of banned substances and refused to hire anyone who tested positive for those substances. 

The applicant was offered a position but then allegedly had the offer rescinded when she tested positive for a substance that she said was legally prescribed to treat a disability. According to the EEOC, the drug did not affect her ability to perform the duties of the job.

“Blanket exclusion policies based on drug test results harm job applicants and employers,” said EEOC Phoenix District Director Elizabeth Cadle. “The ADA requires a case-by-case evaluation of applicants with disabilities to make sure employers assess these applicants on their merits."

The Phoenix District Office of EEOC presides over Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and part of New Mexico that includes Albuquerque.

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