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EEOC settles disability discrimination case

Nevada employees who need to take medication while on the job should be encouraged by a recent settlement between an employer and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The disability discrimination case involved a woman who was fired for taking medication for her bipolar disorder. The employer has now agreed to pay $50,000 to settle the lawsuit.

The woman was employed as a lab technician at a company that manufactures masonry and concrete products for the construction industry. The woman's physician had prescribed the medication. Unfortunately she suffered an adverse reaction to the medication. The employer responded by making her take a drug test. Worse still, even though the results of the test showed the only drugs in her system were the prescription medications she used to treat her illness, the employer fired her as soon as the test results came back.

The Americans with Disabilities Act outlaws health discrimination in the workplace. The Act requires that employees make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. The ADA was enacted to protect workers from being fired or denied promotion opportunities because of unfair stereotypes about disabled people. In this case, the EEOC stated that the woman's bipolar disorder clearly qualified as a disability. Failing to make reasonable accommodations and firing the woman because she had to take medication on the job was clearly a discriminatory act and a violation of the ADA.

Employers like this just don't seem to get it. The ADA and its requirement of reasonable accommodation should be well known to employers in this day and age. The ADA was enacted to protect workers from being fired because of unfair stereotypes about disabled people.

Source: Business Insurance, "EEOC settles bipolar worker's disability discrimination lawsuit," Judy Greenwald, Jan. 7, 2013

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