Opioid use and abuse have reached epidemic levels in our country. This crisis is far-reaching, affecting sectors and geographical areas, including automobile drivers. Studies show that injured motorized vehicle drivers who tested positive for prescription opioids climbed from 1 percent in 1995 to over 7 percent in 2015. Opioids are particularly harmful to automobile operators as they may lead to drowsiness reaction time, and diminished endurance. in response to this outbreak, the Department of Transportation revised its drug screening procedures effective Jan. 1, 2018 to include testing for many opioids like Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxymorphone, and Oxycodone.
What happens if you’re a motor carrier that becomes aware that a truck driver worker who passed drug testing is now using or abusing opioids, or other controlled substances? Would you fire the motorist? Or can your worker maintain protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act? The ADA prohibits employers from terminating a qualified individual, on the basis of handicaps. So about achieve success on an ADA claim, a plaintiff employee has to show that: he’s handicapped, he’s a qualified individual, and he suffered unlawful discrimination due to his handicap. Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, those that are addicted to drugs, but are no longer using drugs and thus are getting treatment for drug addiction, are protected by the ADA.
So for now, addiction itself could be considered a disability under the ADA, the present usage of illegal drugs bars an employee from ADA protection. But, the answer does not end there. In reality, for employers from the commercial trucking industry, a handicap analysis under the ADA might not be necessary. Rather, a trucking firm employer might answer this question by examining whether the motorist employee is a qualified individual, under the law. Because, to put it, if the motorist isn’t qualified, then there’s no ADA protection. Employee drug usage under the FMCSR.