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Employee's Refusal to Take Post-Workers' Comp Accident Drug Test - OK for Employer to Terminate

March 2014

By: Anthony J. Caruso, Esq.

In the recent federal case ( favorable to employers!), Phillips v. Continental Tire the Americas, LLC, decided February 14, 2014, the Court affirmed a summary judgment for the employer in an Illinois Workers' Compensation retaliation claim.

Under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, an employee can file a retaliatory discharge lawsuit in court against the employer if the employee was terminated for filing a workers' compensation claim and/or seeking benefits.

In this case, the employer had a drug and alcohol policy which provided for post workers' compensation accident drug and alcohol testing. Further, the policy indicated that a refusal to test was grounds for termination.

Here, the employee refused to be tested, and he was terminated. The Court held that the drug and alcohol testing was connected to the workers' compensation claim. However, it was not evidence by itself to make a retaliatory discharge claim against the employer.

In conclusion, this legal victory for the employer confirms that the use of post-accident drug and alcohol testing by employers in the state of Illinois is legally valid. Employers should implement or continue to use post-accident drug and alcohol testing for workers' compensation injuries to enforce safety (and to bar recovery of such claims under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act).

If you have questions or concerns about drug and alcohol testing policies or any other questions related to workers' compensation or employment law, please call attorney Anthony J. Caruso, Jr. of Wessels Sherman's St. Charles, Illinois office at 630-377-1554 or e-mail ancaruso@wesselssherman.com .