The War on Drug Tests (9/11/2014)

Take Sue Bates, who in 2010 was fired from her job at Dura Automotive Systems after she tested positive for hydrocodone—a narcotic that she was prescribed for back pain. When she offered her prescription as an explanation for the test results, Dura argued that it was impossible to determine if she had been using the medication as prescribed or if she was a substance abuser, which would presumably affect her job performance. A similar thing happened to Chassity Brady, a Georgia woman who was fired when her bipolar medication showed up on a drug test; and Tim Sparr, a police officer in Arizona, who was let go for failing a drug test (he had been taking oxycodone, which he was prescribed after being shot in the arm on duty).

In 2011, Bates and six other Dura employees sued the company, and won when a judge ruled that their drug testing was not “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” Brady also sued, in 2013, and won…

But it’s not clear that marijuana users will have the same recourse. Some states—Connecticut, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, and Rhode Island—have made it illegal to discriminate against medical marijuana users, but other states have ruled that drug discrimination is perfectly legal. In Florida, where an HIV-positive man named Gaylus Bailey was fired for using medicinal marijuana prescribed to him to alleviate HIV-related symptoms, a judge ruled that the company was well within its right to fire him, prescription or no prescription…

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