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Volvo reaches $70K settlement after refusing to hire worker on suboxone

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reached a $70,000 settlement with Volvo Group North America LLC in a lawsuit accusing the company of refusing to hire a worker at its Hagerstown plant after he disclosed he was taking medically prescribed suboxone as treatment for drug addiction.

Volvo also will institute a three-year consent decree to keep the company from violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We appreciate that Volvo worked with the EEOC to resolve this case fairly, expeditiously and without incurring unnecessary litigation expenses,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence in a statement. “This settlement is designed to help ensure that all applicants and employees are protected from disability discrimination.”

Michael Files was given a conditional offer of employment for an hourly manufacturing job in February 2015. Files was a recovering drug addict who has not used illegal drugs in five years at the time and had been receiving supervised, medication-assisted treatment programs since 2010, according to the lawsuit, filed in September.

During his post-offer medical examination, however, Files told the company nurse he was taking medically prescribed suboxone and the nurse replied Volvo viewed suboxone as a narcotic worse than heroin, the lawsuit states.

When Files arrived for his first day, Volvo’s human resources representative informed him they could not hire him because of his suboxone use, the lawsuit states.

As part of its consent decree, Volvo will distribute an ADA policy to all employees at is Hagerstown facility to explain people’s rights to reasonable accommodation. The company will also change its policy regarding medical and drug evaluations after making a job offer and how it examines whether an applicant’s lawful prescription medication use poses a “threat” under the ADA, according to the EEOC.

Volvo will report to the federal agency about its handling of future complaints of disability discrimination and will post a notice regarding the settlement, the EEOC said.

The case is U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Volvo Group North America LLC, 1:17-cv-02889.


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