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Lawsuit filed over company's refusal to hire recovering addict

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A report from the News & Observer detailed a lawsuit that was recently filed against an insurance office in Raleigh, North Carolina, over its refusal to hire a recovering drug addict.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiff, who claims the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when it rescinded its job offer. Under the act, "recovering addictions" are considered disabilities.

The suit explains the plaintiff applied for an opening in December 2009 and was hired conditionally pending a drug test. However, when the test showed traces of methadone in the plaintiff's system, the offer was withdrawn. The plaintiff explained he had the drug in his system because he is a recovering addict who had been enrolled in a supervised treatment program since 2004.

In his suit, the plaintiff seeks back pay, lost income and damages.

"We have to set aside our personal feelings and do what the law dictates," said Lynette Barnes, the EEOC's regional attorney in Charlotte. "That's why he's covered by the [law]. He has this impairment that requires him to take the methadone."

The case highlights the importance of companies adhering to legal business practices and complying with all industry regulations, including equality acts. Failing to do so can result in an expensive professional liability lawsuit. 

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