EEOC Sues the Princess Martha, Llc and TJM Properties, Inc. for Disability Discrimination

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Senior Living Residence Revoked Applicant’s Job Offer After Her Legally-Prescribed Medications Prevented Her From Passing a Required Drug Test

St. Petersburg, Fla. – The Princess Martha, an upscale senior living residence owned and managed by TJM Properties, violated federal law by revoking an applicant’s job offer because of her disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the lawsuit, the applicant, a veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), received an offer of employment from Princess Martha conditioned upon a negative drug test. During her interview, the applicant informed her interviewer she was diagnosed with PTSD and was required to take legally-prescribed medications that would cause her drug test to fail. The applicant subsequently took the drug test and received a “non-negative” result. A few days after taking the drug test, the applicant called Princess Martha to check on the status of her hire and again informed the employer her prescription medications would cause a drug test to fail. The next day, the applicant’s job offer was revoked without explanation.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees from discrimination based on their disabilities and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations of disabilities if it does not cause the company an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Princess Martha, LLC, Case No. 8:22-cv-02182) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief to prevent any further discriminatory practices.

“Unfortunately, discriminatory drug testing practices can be a mechanism for excluding qualified job applicants who suffer from mental health conditions.” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert E. Weisberg. “The ADA prohibits employers from excluding applicants for hire because of their disability. If an employer choses to drug test applicants, it is critical they utilize the results in compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws.”

Evangeline Hawthorne, director of the Tampa Field Office, said, “The EEOC will continue to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to work. The ADA requires employers to engage in an interactive process when they learn of an applicant’s need for reasonable accommodation in the hiring process.”

For more information on disability discrimination, please visit https://www.eeoc.gov/disability-discrimination.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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