Court Dismisses Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

California federal court determines that employers can condition an offer of employment on passing a pre-employment drug screening.

In Espindola v. Wismettac Asian Foods, Inc., a plaintiff claimed disability discrimination after being terminated for testing positive for marijuana as part of a pre-employment drug test. In its decision, the U.S. District Court held that an employer can offer employment with the condition that the individual must first pass a pre-employment drug screening, which may include marijuana as part of the panel. Even though the substance has been recreationally legal in California since 2018, the Court contended that an employer is not obligated to engage in the interactive process before terminating an employee.

Here, the employer's policy requires a pre-employment drug screen for all prospective employees. The employer granted the plaintiff's request to postpone the drug screen until after he began working for the company. The plaintiff then indicated on an internal personnel form that he was not "disabled," signed a drug screen consent form and disclosed, for the first time, that he had been prescribed marijuana to treat chronic back pain. The plaintiff did not supply the employer any substantiating details or documentation regarding his condition or any potential job performance limitations.

The plaintiff forwarded his medical marijuana card to the HR department, which he obtained after being informed of the impending drug test. He subsequently submitted to the test (which returned a positive result for marijuana) and was then terminated based on that outcome. The plaintiff responded by filing a retaliation and disability discrimination lawsuit under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") in addition to claims for wrongful termination, failure to accommodate a disability and failure to engage in the interactive process.

In addition to the permitted use of pre-employment drug testing, the Court further held that allegations of pain, without more, do not qualify as a disability and "an employer does not have to accept an employee's subjective belief that he is disabled." Since sufficient detail or documentation was never provided to the employer, the Plaintiff failed to establish he suffered from a disability.

Employers are encouraged to periodically review jurisdictional legislation regarding the legalization of marijuana and internal policies on drug screening to determine if adjustments to the hiring process may be required.

Posted: August 10, 2021

All Rights Reserved © 2021 Certiphi Screening, Inc.
This document and/or presentation is provided as a service to our customers. Its contents are designed solely for informational purposes, and should not be inferred or understood as legal advice or binding case law, nor shared with any third parties. Persons in need of legal assistance should seek the advice of competent legal counsel. Although care has been taken in preparation of these materials, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of the information contained within it. Anyone using this information does so at his or her own risk.

Thank you for your interest in Business Information Group. We have received your message and will contact you in one business day or less.
Something went wrong. Try again
You have exceeded the number of attempts to submit this form. As a result, your IP address has been temporarily blocked.
Something went wrong. Try again

Get In Touch

Send a Message *fields required

What are your Interests?optional

Even our RFP PROCESS is state-of-the-art.

Find out why

What Our Clients Are Saying

Everyone I have contacted at Certiphi has been a complete pleasure to work with. The Certiphi customer service rivals every other customer service I come in contact with. Everyone is always so professional, yet super nice! Thanks for all you do and keep up the amazing work and impeccable service that you provide!!!

Human Resources Assistant
Large Medical Staffing Firm

Thank you so much! You have such an incredible reputation within our office; I think we would all say your customer service levels are continually at about 125%!

Human Resources Generalist
Medical and Surgical Hospital

The response time has been very quick. The turnaround times are great. I love your systems and that I can go in and look at the process as its going.

Human Resources Manager
Medical Staffing Agency

It’s such a great customer service that you provide and I’m happy to tell that to anyone.

Pastoral Care Associate
Large Children's Hospital

Working with Certiphi has been such a pleasure. Certiphi has taught me so much, not just about backgrounds but also the meaning of great business.

Human Resources Specialist
Large Medical Staffing Firm

We flew through our NCQA licensure review.  We very much appreciate Certiphi's help in earning a 100% score for the files!

Accreditation Manager
Hospital System Analytics Company

You are about to leave

Ok, Continue Cancel