Are Employees Who Take Prescription Drugs Covered Under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

By Thomas McKinney

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi) recently ruled that employees who test positive for prescription drugs, and are suspended/terminated as a result of legally taking the prescription drugs, are not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The various Federal Courts of Appeals disagree on the interpretation of the ADA regarding whether a person legally taking prescription drugs is covered by the ADA.

This ruling is not currently controlling law in New Jersey or New York. However, it seems to be a growing trend in the interpretation of the ADA that employees who were terminated for taking legally prescribed medicine are not covered by the federal statute or considered to be disabiled. Accordingly, any claim for discrimination as a result of legally taking a prescription drug should be filed under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination or New York City or State Human Rights Laws.

December 6, 2010 – Tom McKinney – Castronovo & McKinney

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.