A major copper parts manufacturer will pay $85,000 and furnish other relief for refusing to hire an applicant who was participating in a drug rehabilitation program. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had charged that the company unlawfully discriminated against the applicant because of his record of a disability and because it regarded him as disabled.

According to the EEOC lawsuit, the applicant was offered a job as a production laborer, conditioned on his passing a physical examination. As a result of the post-offer exam, the company's doctor learned that the applicant was receiving methadone as part of a clinically supervised chemical dependency treatment program. The company then rescinded the job offer, mistakenly concluding that the applicant was a safety risk due to his methadone treatments.

This case should remind employers that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires individualized assessments about an individual's ability to do the job, says the EEOC. The applicant was qualified for the position, was not experiencing adverse side effects from the methadone treatments, and the treatment program had provided the company's doctor with information verifying the applicant's successful and compliant participation in the program.

The company has agreed to hire the applicant as a mason utility laborer and will also revise its policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, set up procedures for investigating such misconduct, and provide training.