Exxon Corp. may defend its across-the-board policy of removing employees who have undergone substance abuse treatment from certain safety-sensitive positions on business necessity grounds without establishing that a particular employee constituted a “direct threat,” the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 11, reversing the district court (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Exxon Corp., 5th Cir., No. 98-11356, 2/11/00).

The Americans With Disabilities Act only requires application of the “direct threat” defense when an employer imposes a “special safety standard in an individual case,” Judge Patrick E. Higginbotham wrote for the court.

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