A worker who took opioids for his chronic pain couldn’t bring a disability discrimination suit against his employer after being terminated by directors who were allegedly unaware of his medical condition, a federal judge in Rhode Island recently ruled.
Employee David Saad went to work as an assistant marketing manager for a tech company and was soon placed on a “performance plan” with several specific issues that he needed to address.
Within a couple of months, the company’s manager of “health and well-being” learned that Saad suffered from chronic pain and had requested an OxyContin dosage increase. The manager met with Saad and asked if he needed an accommodation and he declined one.
Meanwhile, Saad allegedly failed to make the improvements called for in his plan. When he met with directors of marketing and HR to discuss his performance issues, including reports that he had badmouthed management to co-workers, he denied the accusations. The directors decided a week later to terminate him.
Saad brought a disability discrimination suit, but the employer argued that the directors had not heard about his medical condition or his opioid use, so he couldn’t show that he had been discriminated against based on his disability. Additionally, the employers argued the company had a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason to fire him.
The judge agreed and dismissed the claim. Still, plenty of employers find themselves in hot water for not managing the termination process in a smart manner and for wrongly seeking out information on their workers’ medical situations. That’s why you should talk to an employment attorney to review your policies and training. Otherwise you might not end up as lucky as this employer.