Jim Boyle Jun. 19, 2014, 11:34am


A Lehigh County woman says that her former employers used an invalid alcohol breath test as leverage to force her termination, according to a federal suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Lori Roth, of Orefield, Pa., says that managers at the Allentown-based Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against her known status as a recovering alcoholic by setting up a not-so-random drug test. She seeks compensatory relief for lost wages and a declaration that her employer's actions were unlawful, plus coverage of court cost.

According to the claim, Roth requested a leave of absence on Oct. 10, 2010, in order to enter a voluntary alcohol rehabilitation program in December. A few days before she entered the program, she was asked to submit to a drug test. Roth refused, with the understanding that if she failed any subsequent test, she would be terminated immediately.

The plaintiff claims that she has not ingested alcohol since completing the program, but her employers falsely assumed Roth's ADA status meant she was an active user.

On May 26, 2011, Roth had spent most of the day in a meeting with her managers and other employees. Near the end of the day, she was ordered to submit to a random drug test. Roth believes the order was not random because she spent the day in a meeting room, unable to have access to an alcoholic beverage, a fact of which her supervisors were aware.

She submitted to the test anyway, the complaint says. When Roth arrived at the outside testing facility, the technician allegedly stated that she did not appear to be intoxicated, saying, "Why are you here, you are not drunk."

Roth says that she had a cough drop in her mouth when the breath test was taken, a fact that the technician noted because cough drops are known to make false positive results on the tests.

The claim says that the supervisors at Air Products used the results anyway as evidence that Roth violated the company's alcohol use standards and terminated her employment on May 31, 2011.

Roth says that she suffers from severe emotional distress and has been irrevocably damaged by her supervisors behavior and blames the company for employing managers who failed to accommodate for her disability.

She is represented by David Deratzian of the Bethlehem, Pa. firm Hahalis and Kounoupis.

The federal case ID number is 5:14-cv-03749-JKG.

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