Filed Date: Jan. 18, 2023
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On January 18, 2023, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee against Cumberland County, Tennessee. The DOJ sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief, alleging that the County violated Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by penalizing a county employee for taking a drug to treat his opioid use disorder. The case was assigned to Judge Waverly David Crenshaw Jr. and Magistrate Judge Alistair E. Newbern.
The complainant was an employee of Cumberland County Jail and a person with a disability because he had an opioid use disorder (OUD). After undergoing a mandatory drug screening, the complainant tested negative for all "drugs of abuse," but his medication prescribed for OUD was flagged by the screening. According to the DOJ, the complainant was eventually told he could either resign or he would be fired for his use of the medication, even though it was prescribed for his OUD. The complainant filed a timely charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
First, the DOJ alleged that the defendant had violated the ADA by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation and by constructively discharging the complainant. Next, the DOJ alleged that the Sheriff’s Office implemented a policy that prevented people taking certain legally prescribed controlled substances or medications from having those substances in their system while working for the County. The DOJ asserted that this was a discriminatory qualification that screened out or tended to screen out individuals with disabilities. Lastly, the DOJ alleged that the defendant improperly co-mingled medical records in personnel files.
On the same day the suit was filed, the parties jointly moved for approval and entry of a consent decree. The following day, January 19, 2023, the court granted the motion and entered a consent decree requiring the County to:
On January 20, 2023, the case was administratively closed, but the court retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the consent decree for a period of 18 months from implementation.
As of March 12, 2023 this case was ongoing.
Rhea Sharma (3/12/2023)
See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/66740671/united-states-v-cumberland-county-tennessee/
Last updated May 10, 2023, 3:02 a.m.
State / Territory: Tennessee
Filing Date: Jan. 18, 2023
Case Ongoing: Yes
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Cumberland County (Cumberland), County
Causes of Action:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief:
Form of Settlement:
Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Amount Defendant Pays: $160,000
Order Duration: 2023 - 2024
Content of Injunction:
Provide antidiscrimination training
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)