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Job applicant sues for improper drug test

A temporary employee in Alabama applied for a permanent position as an electronics technician, and took a drug test as part of his application. When the test came back positive, the employee explained that he took barbiturates to manage his epilepsy.

His supervisor – who knew about the test results – didn’t hire him for the permanent job, and fired him from his temporary position. The employee sued. He claimed the drug test violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which imposes strict limits on when a drug test can be given.

The employer argued that the employee couldn’t sue under the ADA because he wasn’t disabled. But a federal appeals court sided with the employee, and allowed the suit to go forward. According to the court, while the law might be called the “Americans with Disabilities Act,” the drug-testing provisions apply to everyone, and therefore a person doesn’t have to be disabled to sue for a violation.

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