NASHVILLE (CN) – In a federal class action, the EEOC claims that DURA Automotive Systems, a major auto partsmaker, openly reported individual test results on prescription drugs, suspended or fired more than 30 workers who tested positive prescribed medication and used drug tests “to screen out individuals with disabilities.”
The EEOC says that DURA suspended more than 30 employees who tested positive for legally prescribed medications, though it had no reason even to test the workers. DURA reported the results in front of other employees, illegally inquired why the workers were taking the prescribed drugs, and fired them if they could not stop taking them, the agency said.
DURA calls itself the largest independent manufacturer of driver control systems, such as door and seat-control mechanisms. The EEOC lawsuit covers action the company took at its Lawrenceburg, Tenn. production plant.
DURA boasts that is becoming “more competitive and profitable through cost reduction, process improvements, and technological innovation,” but the EEOC says the company may not get rid of employees who need prescribed medications – nor even test for them – unless DURA can show that the workers are unable to do their jobs.
Annie Corbin worked for DURA for more than 20 years and was on workers’ compensation leave for a foot injury when she was asked to come in for testing, according to the complaint. She brought all of her medications, as instructed, and provided a urine sample, which tested positive for “certain chemicals.”
DURA told her she could not return to work unless she passed a drug test, so she stopped taking her prescribed medication, and had to work in “excruciating pain,” the EEOC said. She was taking a legally prescribed drug to because of an injury she had suffered on the job, and for which she had to take workers’ comp leave, according to the complaint.
DURA fired her “due to the medical restrictions that her treating physicians had placed on her,” and she was not the only one, the EEOC said.
It fired another woman after 22 years of work because the pain she suffered when she tried to work without her medicine was unbearable, the EEOC said.
Most of the workers cited in the complaint gave DURA more than 15 years of work, then lost their jobs for taking prescribed medication or were forced to work in pain, the EEOC said.
The agency wants a permanent injunction to stop DURA from violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. It also seeks back pay and compensatory damages for the injured workers.