Federal: Former Employee’s Retaliatory Discharge Action for Refusing Drug Test Associated with Comp Claim Fails

Federal: Former Employee’s Retaliatory Discharge Action for Refusing Drug Test Associated with Comp Claim Fails

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a federal district court’s summary judgment in favor of a former employer was appropriate in a discharged employee’s retaliatory discharge action, arising from the latter’s refusal to take a drug test upon his initiation of a workers’ compensation claim.  The employer’s policies allowed an injured employee to receive medical treatment in the company’s health services department and return to work without being required to submit to a drug test, if the employee did not seek to initiate a workers' compensation claim.  If, however, the employee sought to initiate a claim, he or she was required to undergo the test or be subject to termination, regardless of whether the employee received treatment or services at the health services department.  The employee refused to take the drug test because he didn't think that it should be a necessary consequence of filing a workers' compensation claim.  He was terminated.  Even though he refused to submit to the test, the employee did file a workers' compensation claim and he eventually received workers' compensation benefits.  The Seventh Circuit held that since the drug testing policy covered many other situations in which the employer faced potential legal exposure, including, among other things: pre-employment testing, random testing for the initial 12 months of employment, and the occurrence of any OSHA recordable accident, workers’ compensation claimants were not singled out.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.

See Phillips v. Continental Tire the Americas, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 2841 (7th Cir. Feb. 14, 2014) [2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 2841 (7th Cir. Feb. 14, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 104.07 [104.07]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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