Denying a job to a person who uses drugs to treat a legitimate medical condition constitutes illegal job discrimination

Happy Jack’s blames drug testing company for discrimination

A Sioux Falls casino owner sued for disability discrimination says it denied a job to a woman who failed a drug screening because its testing agency failed to check if her painkiller prescription was valid.

M.G. Oil counter-sued TestPoint Paramedical last week, saying its failure to follow-up is the reason for the federal lawsuit.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission sued M.G. Oil in September for withdrawing a job offer from an applicant to Happy Jack’s casino who tested positive for hydrocodone.

M.G. Oil stood firm in its denial even after she told the company about her prescription and her diagnosis of chronic back and neck pain.

Denying a job to a person who uses drugs to treat a legitimate medical condition constitutes illegal job discrimination, and M.G. Oil refused to offer an out-of-court settlement to the applicant, according to the EEOC lawsuit.

It admitted to denying the job offer, but denied discrimination, saying the applicant never claimed that her pain constituted a disability or serious job impairment.

The company’s response to the lawsuit says M.G. instructs “all its drug testing companies” to conduct further investigation on positive tests, which would include checking for a valid prescription.

That didn’t happen, M.G. Oil claims.

After the lawsuit was filed, the company says, it “received notice from the drug testing company that this policy was not followed in this case.”.

If the court finds the casino job denial broke discrimination law, M.G. Oil says, the testing company should bear some of the blame and pay some of the cost.

“TestPoint breached its contractual obligation to automatically send the non-negative drug test to a medical review officer for verification,” the counterclaim said.

TestPoint has yet to reply in court to the accusations, levied the day before Thanksgiving.

Patrick Heitkamp, TestPoint’s owner, denied the allegations and said no signed, legal contract with M.G. Oil exists, but otherwise declined to comment on the pending litigation.

M.G. Oil admitted that the EEOC had given the company a chance to settle, but said the terms were “onerous” and “unreasonable.”

M.G. Oil’s lawyer, Jeff Swett of Rapid City, declined to comment beyond the filings.

EEOC investigations of job discrimination are fairly common, but lawsuits initiated by the EEOC on behalf of individuals are rare.

The M.G. Oil lawsuit represents the third EEOC case filed in the past five years against a South Dakota company.

No trial date has been set for the case.

4 Responses

  1. I agree Mary, for most situations. I drove on meds for years too while my son who was homeschooled and in the youth symphony needed transportation, but still wouldn’t want someone at the mine where hubby works on meds. I don’t think that for most of us our meds affect us but when doing a dangerous job where you are chronically tired because of a nightmare schedule and where the smallest truck could use the huge grader my hubby is in for a very small speedbump I would rather not have the slightest risk. Your right in saying that being in pain causes more impairment most of the time but I guess I would rather err on the side of keeping hubby safe at all costs. Even to myself I feel I am not being quite fair or making sense lol. I hope you all understand. Take a look online at a huge open pit mining operation and perhaps you will see where I am coming from.
    P.s. Mary I am still hoping to get that call from you! I think we have so much more than a life of pain in common and would really love making a friend! Literally Anytime of the day or night works because of our insane schedule and if we need to sleep I just turn the phone ringers off.

  2. Being on prescription pain medication would not affect a person’s ability to do the job . This article doesn’t say what type of job was being applied for. If it were a job such as the one my husband does being on any type of prescription pain medication could mean life and death and I wouldn’t want to think that someone with the possibility of being impaired were driving HUGE heavy machinery! It could cause my husband’s death! I take strong opiates for pain myself and chose years ago not to drive because if I killed or not someone in an accident I wouldn’t be able to live with myself and could in all reality be charged with driving under the influence and end up in prison! So yes we shouldn’t be discriminated against but we also need to take responsibility and use common sense.

    • As u know then conny,,,medicine effects each person differently,,,for me,,my medicine lessen my physical pain enough to concentrate on thee task at hand,,Although I do not work outside the home because of my chronic physical pain do to medical conditions,,I am around 1000 pound animals every day,,I have never been kicked,stepped on or bit by any of our critters,,i operate our tractors all the time whilst doing hay,with never having a accident on our tractors ever on medicine,,I rarely drive anymore,,not because I can’t,,but in fear of being charged w/dui falsely because of my medicine..Now having said that,,I did drive all the time,,for 15 years on mymedicine,,I have yet to have any accidents ever,,,my driving record is spotless,,other then a couple of speeding tickets when I was NOT on medicine,18,19 years old…This is where those who do not take medicine DO NOT UNDERSTAND,,, try driving w/ a broken leg,i will say to those who claim we have impairments from our meds,,,Not to many people can drive w/a broken leg,,the physical pain will not allow then to concentrate on thee task at hand,,,u lessen that physical pain enough,,,u can now concentrate on thee task at hand,,,I personally do not believe there is not ay task a chronic physical pain person can preform on their medicine,,,the rub is,,no matter if it effects them or not,,,if they have a accident whilst on medicine,,,they will be charged w/operating any vehicle under thee influence,,,no matter if there medicine had nothing to do w/the cause of thee accident,,,,Soo its a risk to operate any heavy machinery whilst on medicine..not because we can’t operate it,,but because it doesn’t matter in thee eyes of the law,,,they will blame your medicine no-matter what,,,even if your medicine was not the cause of a accident,,,jmo,,mary

  3. Way to go eeoc,,I hope they win,,,many of us fear this,,that we will be refused a job for coming up positive for our LEGAL script,,,now,,,,a lot of companies just lie,,,saying it hads nothing to do w/a FALSE POSITIVE,, but the applicants experience for the job applied for was not enough,,some lame ass lie ,,,other then the truth,,which was thee applicant came up positive in their minds,,thus,,they refused to hire them,,,Good for the eeoc,,,this time,,,i hope they see this threw

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