Hospital Sued Over Refusal To Accommodate Applicant With Shy Bladder Syndrome In Drug Test

220px-Vial_examplesThere is an interesting case out of Des Moines, Iowa where Jennifer Conner is suing Iowa Methodist Medical Center over the alleged refusal of the hospital to make relatively small accommodations for her disability: shy bladder syndrome. Conner fears urination in public restrooms and could not complete the required drug test for a position with the hospital.


Connor appeared well-suited for the position of organ transplant financial coordinator at the hospital. She is a recent graduate with a Master’s degree in health care administration from Des Moines University. However, she needed to take the drug test. Since she was a teen, Conner has been diagnosed with anxiety condition paruresis. She would often run water or flush the toilet to allow her to use a public restroom. However, the hospital put her in a room without running water and demanded a sample. One would think a hospital would be sympathetic with a condition of this kind. However, the nurses refused to find an alternative room and made things worse by pounding on the door to tell Conner to hurry up. She even offered a blood test to show that she was not trying to avoid the test but was told to produce the sample by the end of the day or lose the job.

Shy bladder syndrome is considered a disability under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. That makes this record a serious problem for the hospital. She is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, including those for lost wages and benefits, attorneys’ fees, emotional distress and pain and suffering.

This could be a true learning experience and an expensive one. For a minor accommodation, the hospital could have avoided this problem. The question is whether it was made clear to the hospital that they were dealing with a diagnosed disability. I would assume that she made that clear since there is no reason not to disclose the information.

Source: Des Moines Register

27 thoughts on “Hospital Sued Over Refusal To Accommodate Applicant With Shy Bladder Syndrome In Drug Test

  1. James,
    I had to submit to a drug test when I worked for a bank as a trust officer and it was not a fun procedure. I too was herded into a small room in a local clinic, but at least I had a sink in there. To not make a reasonable accommodation for this malady is not only unfortunate, it is downright stupid.

  2. When hospitals cease promoting Big Pharma, cease selling drugs at a high profit, cease over drugging patients, and cease their hypocracy, then perhaps they can condition the hiring of employees upon peeing in a bottle in a dirty room. That would be my opening statement. My first deposition would be at my office in a dirty little room and I would have a big piss jar on the table in front of the hospital superintendent as I took the deposition on video. I would have my secretary pound on the door during the depo and focus on the anxiety appearing on the Superintedents face as he/she stares at that big piss bottle with some yellow fluid in the bottom (not pee). At trial my first witness would be the President of the College where the pltf had just graduated from. And when I requested a recess I would state in a barely audible voice, as an aside to my co counsel, that I needed to take a whiz. Jury can hear that one but not the judge. I would ask the Superintendent what his/her test score was on his/her piss test.

  3. Nick contends, “However, there are jobs involving public safety where it is warranted.”

    This can be done within a framework where there is no ritualistic humiliation, and no systemic accounting of what a person ingests. Behavior will tell you where the problems are, if you are interested in finding it.

    Drug testing used to be just a lazy catch-all. In the age of Torture and Taser, it must be resisted for the Orwellian farce it is. Only the unwinding of the failed drug war will accomplish this.

    Rafflaw, Banks have REAL NERVE testing anyone for anything. At no time has a bank faced its test: grand larceny. No one close to me has recovered from the depression; three lost houses, and saw their 401ks disappear, never to be seen again. Tax debt + credit card debt = net worth. Now, pee in this cup, OR ELSE. I’m not sure what the ELSE is at this point. Chances are you’d at least eat better in jail.

  4. JK,
    The reason for agreeing to the drug test was to obtain a job. Without the carrot of the job that I needed, I would have refused.

  5. About 10 years ago my husband got his dream job after months of extensive interviews with a reputable company, a leader in the industry. During the last interview, when they told him he had the job, all the necessary paper work had been filled out, etc, as an aside, they gave him a plastic cup to pee in. On his way out the door he casually threw the cup into the wastepaper basket and never looked back. His rationale was that he didn´t want to work at a place that was so anonymous that they didn´t already know who the drug addicts were.. He wasn´t even thinking of privacy at the time.

  6. People who work at places like this should anonymously send bottles of pee to the Board Members, bosses, higher ups, on a regular basis. Call it Bladder Patrol. I dont like to pee at the vets office.

  7. Clearly a case of poor training, and the hospital is going to lose this one. The DOT has the most extensive drug-testing protocols in place, and for the most part, the only ones actually sanctioned by law. These rules clearly state that there must be accommodations for people with shy bladder. If you don’t meet these minimal standards then you’re going to lose a lawsuit.

    Also, for general info: the correct bathroom for drug testing has a switch outside the room to turn the water off in the sink (generally off except for people with the shy bladder. You also put “bluing” in the toilet (to keep people from diluting the urine with water from the sink or toilet); and use a special cup that will detect sample temperature and any adulterants in the specimen.

    Still, for the resourceful drug user, you can still buy a clean urine sample and a little battery-heated container for about $20 on the interwebs.

Comments are closed.