EEOC: Company Illegally Required Employee to Take Medication as Condition for Return to Work

Even as our political leaders urge us to not overdo it on medications, a paper company in Michigan got in trouble with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for requiring an employee to take his meds as a condition of his employment.

Today the EEOC announced that Neehah Paper, Inc., a manufacturer of various types of premium paper with a paper mill in Munising, Michigan, will pay $33,000 to settle an Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit.

EEOC’s lawsuit charged that Neenah Paper, Inc. violated the ADA by refusing to allow Kristoffer Gauthier to return to his job on the production floor for seven months because of his disability, a seizure disorder. The agency also alleged that, as a condition to return to work, Neenah Paper required Gauthier to take his anti-epileptic medication under observation during his shifts.

Matters started going south in this employment relationship when, despite being medically cleared by his neurologist to return to work following a seizure, Neenah Paper told Gauthier that it would not allow him to return to his position until a physician could confirm that he no longer had his condition. It wasn’t until July 2013 that the company allowed Gauthier to return to his job, provided that he take his medication at work under observation–either in the presence of the plant nurse or designated co-workers who served as witnesses, the EEOC said.

This amounted to discriminating against the employee because of his medical condition, the EEOC charged.

“We believe this case exemplifies the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Omar Weaver, senior trial attorney for EEOC’s Detroit Field Office. “An employer cannot single out an employee who has a disability and impose a unique and over-protective rule on that person as a condition.”

Read more about the lawsuit and settlement.

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