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EEOC: A dog kennel company forced an employee to quit due to a former addiction

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UPDATE: July 19, 2022: Rover’s Place will pay $60,000 to settle EEOC allegations, the agency announced July 12. “This case reminds employers that they cannot succumb to their own fears, myths or stereotypes about recovering employees,” said Julie Bowman, district manager for EEOC Chicago. “Rover’s Place should be commended for agreeing to a consent decree early in this litigation.”

Diving Brief:

  • Rover’s Place, a Northbrook, Illinois-based kennel company, broke the Americans with Disabilities Act when one of the company’s owners created a ‘hostile work environment’, questioned him about his medical history and forced him to resign due to his opioid addiction. the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a version as of October 1.
  • The worker in question was not using drugs at the time of the incident and had not exhibited any problems in the workplace due to past drug use, the EEOC said.
  • “Although in very limited circumstances, the ADA allows employers to make appropriate employment-related medical investigations [sic]this law prohibits employers from harassing their employees because of a disability and denying them equal employment opportunity,” commented Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the Chicago District Office of the EEOC, in the press release. Rover’s Place directed HR Dive to their lawyer, who had not submitted a comment by press time.

Overview of the dive:

Employers are free to enforce drug policies, particularly where use interferes with job responsibilities and maintaining a safe work environment; however, employers are generally not free to require employee medical histories or to make employment decisions based on past drug use disorders.

According an information sheet provided by the Civil Rights Office of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The fact sheet notes that federal disability rights laws can be triggered if the worker with a drug-related disability does not currently use drugs illegally; has successfully completed or is currently in a supervised rehabilitation program; or is falsely believed to be engaging in drug use, but does not.

Employers concerned about the health of their employees and the potential impact of drug use on their job responsibilities can take action proactive approachincluding providing access to wellness programs that provide alternatives to opioid use, providing education about opioids and other drugs, and ensuring employees receive strong compensation and benefits. benefits that reduce types of stress which can lead to addiction issues.

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