Magistrate Judge Patricia Gorence of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled that Quality Addiction Management, a drug treatment facility, had a legitimate reason to fire plaintiff Belva Zocher-Burke in October 2005.
Gorence found that the employer discharged Zocher-Burke a month after she gave a co-worker suffering severe headaches propoxyphene – a prescription drug. The colleague had a chemical dependency history, according to the court.
Gorence noted in her ruling that Quality Addiction had a provision in its employee handbook that prohibited employees from selling, possessing, transferring, or offering to buy or sell drugs.
Zocher-Burke sued the employer, alleging her discharge violated Section 510 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which bars employers from interfering with employees’ benefits rights.
Zocher-Burke contended Quality Addiction’s true reason for firing her was to prevent her from obtaining health and disability benefits for lung cancer, Gorence said.
The ruling in Zocher-Burke v. Quality Addiction Management Inc., E.D. Wis., No. 06-C-693, 9/27/07 is here .