Supreme Court Rules Employer Needn't Rehire Recovered Drug User

The Journal of Employee Assistance, January 2004 | Go to article overview

Supreme Court Rules Employer Needn't Rehire Recovered Drug User


An employer was within its rights not to rehire a worker who was fired for drug use, even though the worker had since entered treatment and his counselor affirmed he no longer used drugs, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in December 2003.

The 7-0 ruling in Raytheon v. Hernandez was the latest in a string of recent Supreme Court decisions limiting the scope of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities. Previously, the court held that the ADA does not cover workers with carpal tunnel syndrome and that employers are not required to hire workers whose medical conditions might worsen in a given job.

The Raytheon ruling stemmed from an incident in 1991 when Raytheon fired Joel Hernandez, who had worked for the company for 25 years, because he tested positive for cocaine. Three years later he asked to be rehired, submitting letters from his drug counselor and pastor saying he no longer used drugs. Raytheon rejected the application because it had an unwritten policy against rehiring employees who violated workplace conduct rules. …

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Supreme Court Rules Employer Needn't Rehire Recovered Drug User
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