JOHNSTOWN, Pa.  - Cabinet component supplier Appalachian Wood Products Inc. is being sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for allegedly subjecting job applicants to unlawful medical inquiries and refusing to hire qualified applicants based on their disability or medical treatment.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, in June 2017, the company refused to hire an applicant for a factory position because he was taking medically-prescribed suboxone (often prescribed for opioid addiction) - without considering whether it affected his ability to do the job safely. The lawsuit also charges that Appalachian has unlawfully required applicants to disclose their use of medications prior to making conditional job offers and then refused to hire them into certain jobs or assigned them to less desirable positions.
Refusing to hire a qualified individual because of his disability, record of disability or because the employer perceives a person as being disabled violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA also places strict limits on employers when it comes to asking job applicants to answer medical questions, take a medical exam, or identify a disability.
"Federal law prohibits employers from subjecting applicants to pre-job offer medical exams or inquiries, and strictly regulates post-offer medical examinations, so that applicants can be fairly evaluated on their actual qualifications," said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence. "Employers risk violating the law if they make employment decisions based on unfounded fears or generalized assump­tions about an applicant or employee's disability or the possible effects of their medical treatment."
Appalachian Wood Products manufacturers framing, drawers, glued panels, and cabinet doors at a 266,000-square-foot plant in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

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