A Sioux Falls casino owner sued for disability discrimination says it denied a job to a woman who failed a drug screening because its testing agency failed to check if her painkiller prescription was valid.
M.G. Oil counter-sued TestPoint Paramedical last week, saying its failure to follow-up is the reason for the federal lawsuit.
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission sued M.G. Oil in September for withdrawing a job offer from an applicant to Happy Jack's casino who tested positive for hydrocodone.
M.G. Oil stood firm in its denial even after she told the company about her prescription and her diagnosis of chronic back and neck pain.
Denying a job to a person who uses drugs to treat a legitimate medical condition constitutes illegal job discrimination, and M.G. Oil refused to offer an out-of-court settlement to the applicant, according to the EEOC lawsuit.
Last week, M.G. Oil formally responded to the EEOC complaint for the first time.
It admitted to denying the job offer, but denied discrimination, saying the applicant never claimed that her pain constituted a disability or serious job impairment.
The company's response to the lawsuit says M.G. instructs “all its drug testing companies” to conduct further investigation on positive tests, which would include checking for a valid prescription.
That didn’t happen, M.G. Oil claims.
After the lawsuit was filed, the company says, it "received notice from the drug testing company that this policy was not followed in this case.".
If the court finds the casino job denial broke discrimination law, M.G. Oil says, the testing company should bear some of the blame and pay some of the cost.
“TestPoint breached its contractual obligation to automatically send the non-negative drug test to a medical review officer for verification,” the counterclaim said.
TestPoint has yet to reply in court to the accusations, levied the day before Thanksgiving.
Patrick Heitkamp, TestPoint's owner, denied the allegations and said no signed, legal contract with M.G. Oil exists, but otherwise declined to comment on the pending litigation.
M.G. Oil admitted that the EEOC had given the company a chance to settle, but said the terms were “onerous” and “unreasonable.”
No proposed dollar amounts or other settlement terms were included in the filing.
M.G. Oil's lawyer, Jeff Swett of Rapid City, declined to comment beyond the filings.
EEOC investigations of job discrimination are fairly common, but lawsuits initiated by the EEOC on behalf of individuals are rare.
The M.G. Oil lawsuit represents the third EEOC case filed in the past five years against a South Dakota company.
No trial date has been set for the case.