Philadelphia Employment Law News

Employees Risk Termination from Drug Testing in the Workplace

Dura Automotive Systems, a Tennessee company that makes car parts, modified its work policy to test for illegal and certain prescription drugs. The New York Times reported the company decided to terminate Sue Bates, an employee of 22 years, after she tested positive for a legally prescribed drug. Bates filed a lawsuit against Dura for discrimination and invasion of privacy and said “I don’t think it should end the way it did.”

Bates had been taking hydrocodone, a medication for back pain prescribed by her physician that the company suddenly considered unsafe. Although the Supreme Court has maintained the right for employers to test for drugs in the workplace for the last 20 years, Sue Bates was concerned that many employees nationally were also being regarded as a safety hazard and losing their jobs.

Countless Philadelphia employees are complaining that they should not be fired for taking legal medication, which some people may have to take after getting injured on the job. Employers are challenged with setting rules about prescription drugs in the workplace if the drug’s label includes a warning against operating machinery or driving or contains some sort of opiate painkiller, which was the case for Sue Bates. Her case is still in court.

Employers also risk violating the American’s Disability Act, which prohibits asking workers about prescription medication unless they are unable to perform their job for medical reasons or act in a way that compromises safety. Firefighters, police officers, and other public safety jobs are the only exception to the act. Employers are required to test for six categories of drugs, which do not include prescription drugs, synthetic painkillers, or anti-anxiety medication.

A Philadelphia employment lawyer can further explain the specifics regarding drug testing in the workplace and wrongful termination. For general information, visit the Related Resources links.

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