Hospital tech can’t be denied job due to meth conviction

A hospital couldn’t deny a radiology technician a job based solely on the fact that he had a prior drug conviction, the Hawaii Supreme Court recently decided.

The applicant had served time in prison for possession of crystal meth with intent to distribute.

While he was in jail, he earned a college degree. When he got out, he began a program to get certified as a radiology technician, and was placed in a clinical rotation in the imaging program at a hospital.

When the hospital discovered his conviction, it disqualified him from the program. He finished his clinical requirements at a different hospital and – once he graduated – applied for a job at the first hospital. It rejected him again.

He brought a lawsuit. The hospital claimed in court that it had every right to disqualify him based on past misuse of drugs, since radiology techs have access to pharmaceutical substances on carts and in storage areas.

But the court said that under state law, an employer can’t deny someone a job based on a criminal conviction unless the crime has a “rational relationship” to the job duties. In this case, since radiology technicians are responsible for medical imaging and deal with equipment, not drugs, there wasn’t enough of a relationship to justify disqualification.