SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Swift Technical Services, LLC, doing business as Airswift, a Houston-based staffing firm focused on the oil and gas industry, violated federal law when it refused to accommodate an employee with a disability who worked in a liquid natural gas facility in Gregory, Texas, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, at the start of his employment, the building superintendent told his employer that he had thyroid and prostate cancer in remission and that the prescription medication he was taking could cause false positives for illegal substances on a drug test. He explained that he takes prescription medication to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, which was a side effect of his cancer treatment. The EEOC’s lawsuit asserts that when the building superintendent later failed a urinalysis drug test, he requested the reasonable accommodation of a retest using either a blood or hair sample. Rather than allow this accommodation in testing, however, Airswift fired him.
Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an individual's disability or need for reasonable accommodation and requires them to make such accommodations absent an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 2:20-cv-231 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In this case, the EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief, including an order barring Airswift from engaging in discriminatory treatment in the future.
“An alternate form of testing, such as hair follicle or blood testing, would have given this building superintendent all he wanted — the opportunity to continue doing his job,” said Eduardo Juarez, a supervisory trial attorney in the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office. “Barring an undue hardship, employers are required by the ADA to reasonably adjust their policies to accommodate individuals with disabilities.”
Philip Moss, a trial attorney in the EEOC’s San Antonio Field Office, added, “Employers who disregard their employees' rights to be free from workplace discrimination based on disability will be held to account by the EEOC.”
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.