Expanded ADA Disabilities Coverage May Affect Drug Testing

We all anticipated that the Ameri­­cans with Disabilities Act Amend­­ments Act (ADAAA) would make it easier for certain medical conditions to qualify as protected disabilities. That was, after all, the point of the law.

Earlier this year, the EEOC provided an example of just how well the ADAAA may do that. It issued an in­­formal discussion letter noting that it will now be easier for individuals with paruresis—commonly known as “shy bladder syndrome”—to meet the statutorily revised definition of a disability.

If you administer urinalysis drug tests to employees or job applicants, that could force you to change your procedures or adopt a different kind of test.

In light of this EEOC informal discussion letter and the broad definition of disability under the ADAAA, take care if you require applicants or employees to undergo urinalysis-based drug tests. Use caution before subjecting individuals with paruresis to adverse employment actions be­­cause they are unable to take a drug test through urinalysis.

If you face this situation, conduct an individualized assessment to determine whether the individual, in fact, qualifies as an individual with a disability under the ADAAA. If he or she does qualify (it’s reasonably likely), consider allowing an alternative drug test that does not involve urination. Among the possibilities: hair or saliva tests, or a so-called patch test in which a subject wears a patch for several days that detects the presence of drugs in an individual’s perspiration.