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Saturday, December 1, 2012

A.D.P. VS. EXXONMOBIL RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING COMPANY A-4806-10T4


A.D.P. VS. EXXONMOBIL RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING COMPANY
A-4806-10T4
Plaintiff, a long-term employee, voluntarily disclosed to
her employer that she was an alcoholic and was going to an inpatient
rehabilitation program. At the time of her disclosure,
plaintiff's job performance was satisfactory and she was not the
subject of any pending or threatened employment or disciplinary
action. Upon her return, the employer required her to agree to
conditions, including total abstinence and random alcohol
testing for a minimum of two years, as a condition of
employment. These conditions were not imposed pursuant to a
"last chance agreement" but, rather, were required by
ExxonMobil's Alcohol and Drug Use Policy. Her employment was
terminated nearly one year later when a breathalyzer test
revealed alcohol use. She filed suit, alleging discrimination
based upon her disability and wrongful termination.
In this appeal, we consider whether summary judgment was
properly granted to the employer. Viewing the record with
favorable inferences drawn in favor of the plaintiff, the
imposition of these conditions and the termination of
plaintiff's employment pursuant to the employer's policy
constituted direct evidence of discrimination. As a result, the
burden of persuasion shifted to the employer, requiring it to
show that the employment actions taken would have occurred even
if it had not considered plaintiff's disability, see McDevitt v.
Bill Good Builders, Inc., 175 N.J. 519, 525 (2003), a burden it
failed to satisfy as a matter of law. We therefore conclude
that summary judgment dismissing plaintiff's disability
discrimination claim was inappropriate. 10-26-12