Employee with “Shy Bladder Syndrome” Should Have Notified Employer

A retail employee up for promotion lost his job when he was unable to produce a urine sample due to “shy bladder syndrome” and found no protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as he neither notified his employer nor requested an accommodation prior to termination. Lucas v. Gregg Appliances, Inc. (S.D. Ohio 2015).

Christopher Lucas had received a promotion to store manager contingent on passing a drug test. He arrived for his test after having drunk a 40-ounce soda, but after five minutes was unable to provide a urine sample. He told the technician that he suffered from shy bladder syndrome, a medically recognized condition that makes urinating in a public setting impossible.

The technician permitted him to drink five large glasses of water and try again an hour and a half later. He was still unable to urinate. He then left, intending to try again the following day. However, because he left without providing a sample, the technician indicated on her paperwork that he had refused to undergo the test.

Lucas relayed his experience to a human resources representative at the company. He told her that he planned to try again, but failed to mention that his inability to provide a sample was due to shy bladder syndrome. He was subsequently terminated and sued his employer.

The court held for Gregg Appliances, noting that Lucas failed to mention his condition to his employer and made no offer to take the test through alternative means until after he was terminated.

Employers should be aware that accommodating disabilities in the context of drug testing can be complex, particularly when federal regulations dictate the methodology that must be used. Members are encouraged to call MSEC in the event such a situation arises.