Rehabilitated Drug Addict's Disability Claims Were Properly Dismissed

Lopez v. Pacific Maritime Ass’n, 2011 WL 711884 (9th Cir. 2011)

When Santiago Lopez first applied to be a longshoreman in 1997, his application was rejected because he tested positive for marijuana. The PMA, which represents the shipping lines, stevedore companies and terminal operators that run the ports along the west coast, follows a “one-strike rule,” which eliminates from consideration for employment any applicant who tests positive for drug or alcohol during a pre-employment screening process. After he became “clean and sober” in 2004, Lopez reapplied but was rejected because of the one-strike rule. In response, Lopez filed this action, alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The district court granted summary judgment to the employer, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed on the ground that “nothing about the history of the one-strike rule leads us to conclude that [the PMA] adopted the rule with a discriminatory purpose.” The Ninth Circuit also rejected Lopez’s argument that the one-strike rule had a disparate impact upon recovering drug addicts. See also Harris v. Maricopa County Superior Court, 631 F.3d 963 (9th Cir. 2011) (award of $125,000 in prevailing party attorney’s fees to defendant employer was improperly calculated).