Tenn. Auto Parts Firm Sued for Drug Testing Policy

September 22, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A Tennessee auto-parts maker has been accused of violating federal laws by using employee tests for prescription drugs to screen out those with disabilities.

The accusations were in a lawsuit filed against DURA Automotive Systems by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which alleged DURA’s program of forcing workers to undergo drug screens for prescription drugs and then suspending or firing 30 who tested positive violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. EEOC said the actions took place at DURA’s Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, manufacturing plant.

The EEOC said not only did the company carry out the illegal drug tests, officials reported the results in front of other employees, demanded to know why the workers were taking the prescription medication, and fired them if they couldn’t stop take the drugs.

The EEOC said the company may not get rid of employees who need prescribed medications – nor even test for them – unless DURA can show that the workers are unable to do their jobs.

DURA employee Annie Corbin worked for DURA for more than 20 years and was on workers’ compensation leave for a foot injury when she was asked to come in for testing, the lawsuit charged.

DURA told her she could not return to work unless she passed a drug test, so she stopped taking her prescribed medication and had to work in “excruciating pain,” the EEOC said. She was taking a legally prescribed drug because of an injury she had suffered on the job.

The agency wants a permanent injunction to stop DURA from violating the ADA. It also seeks back pay and compensatory damages for the injured workers.

The EEOC lawsuit is available here .