Can an employer require an employee who is initiating a workers’ compensation claim to take a drug test?
And, can the employer fire that employee if the employee refuses to take the required drug test?
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, says yes – maybe. The “yes” answer in this case was based on the following facts and circumstances –
Under these facts and circumstances, the Court found that the employer was not liable for retaliatory discharge, noting “causation requires more than a discharge in connection with filing a claim.”
In retaliatory discharge cases, the employer’s motivation for the discharge is always the key inquiry. If the actual motivation for the termination was the employee’s pursuit of a workers’ compensation claim, then the employer is liable. But, it is not enough for the employee to show that a workers’ compensation claim “set in motion a chain of events that ended in a discharge.”
The Court looked at the decision in Clark v. Owens-Brockaway Glass Container, Inc., 697 N.E.2d 743 (1998) and saw a difference there from this case. In Clark, the employer discharged the employee because it thought the employee was exaggerating the claim and the employer admitted the discharge was connected to the claim. There was no such evidence in this case.
What does this case teach employers –
In the final analysis, the Court confirmed that drug testing in employment is not against Illinois public policy. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act expressly contemplates drug and alcohol testing in connection with workers’ compensation claims. 820 ILCS 305/11.
By Courtney Cox