Claim Filed Against Senior Care Home Alleging ADA and State Discrimination Law Violations

On April 20, 2022, Plaintiff Michelle Ustaszeski-Hutchinson filed a complaint accusing non-profit assisted living organization, Phoebe Ministries, of illegally withdrawing a job offer based on the results of a drug test

The claim stated that Phoebe Richland, a senior care facility located in Richlandtown, PA, was prepared to hire Plaintiff Ustaszeski-Hutchinson, provided that she passed a medical examination and drug test. According to the complaint, Plaintiff provided both a urine sample and a copy of her state medical marijuana card in early February. Following the test, Plaintiff received a phone message indicating that the employer would like to speak to her regarding the test results. The Plaintiff alleged that she made several attempts to return the call but no one ever answered; Phoebe Richland withdrew the job offer via email on February 22, 2022. Plaintiff claims that the employer rescinded the offer "based in whole or part, on the information collected during the pre-employment screening process."

The claim indicates that Plaintiff was prescribed cannabis by a Pennsylvania physician to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder, both of which are qualified conditions under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The prescribing physician told Plaintiff to use the substance in the evenings so that there would be no affect to her work performance during the day. The drug was prescribed to Plaintiff in accordance with the state's 2016 Medical Marijuana Act.

Beyond ADA violations, Plaintiff also alleged that Phoebe Ministries violated Section 2103(b) of Pennsylvania's medical cannabis law, which says that "no employer may discharge, threaten, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee regarding an employee's compensation, terms, conditions, location or privileges solely on the basis of such employee's status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana."

Employers are encouraged to review internal hiring protocols to ensure compliance with the terms of the ADA and other jurisdictional laws regarding employment practices and drug testing.

Posted: April 27, 2022

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