HYATTSVILLE, MARYLAND (01/27/15) – As announced in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) press release, retailer Kmart has been ordered to pay the plaintiff, Lorenzo Cook, $102,048 for disability discrimination because he has kidney disease. Kmart offered Mr. Cook employment at one of its stores. One of the conditions of employment required before Mr. Cook was actually hired, was that he pass Kmart’s urine drug screening. Mr. Cook explained to the manager that offered him the job that he cannot give urine because he was on dialysis and had kidney disease.
Although Mr. Cook offered to give blood or a hair sample so he could be screened for drugs using alternative methods to testing his urine, Kmart would not consider a test method other than urinalysis and reneged on its offer of employment to Mr. Cook.
Maryland’s U.S. District Court found that in rejecting an alternative type of drug test and using it as a reason to renege on their offer of employment, Kmart was guilty of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). In rejecting Mr. Cook’s offer of a choice of two reasonable accommodations for performing a drug screening and reneging on its offer to hire him, Kmart violated the ADA because an employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled job applicant.
As per the National Law Review, besides payment of the monetary award, Kmart must also abide by a two-year consent decree prohibiting Kmart from refusing reasonable accommodations to disabled applicants and subsequently failing to hire them. The consent decree also requires the retailer to:
- Post a notice for employees informing them of the lawsuit and how it was resolved,
- Revise its policies and forms for its drug testing program to include a plan for reasonable accommodation regarding alternative methods to urinalysis that can be used for drug screening, and
- Provide training in the district where the violation of the ADA took place to human resources personnel, store managers and assistant store managers on EEOC laws and the meaning of reasonable accommodation, with instructions for accommodating disabled people regarding drug screenings included in the training.
If you feel that you were not hired by a company because of an ADA violation, you should definitely consult an employment law attorney. The time frame for bringing a lawsuit is only 180 days, although some states and municipalities give additional time, usually up to 300 days. To find out what the time frame is for you, go to the Employment Law section of USAttorneys, click on your state and scroll down to read the content under the heading of “Have Your or Are Your Employment Rights Being Violated in [your state]?,” which will tell you under what circumstances you can have the time frame for bringing an employment lawsuit extended beyond 180 days and many other details about employment law in your state.