Citation. 440 U.S. 568, 99 S. Ct. 1355, 59 L. Ed. 2d 587, 1979 U.S.
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Brief Fact Summary.
The Petitioner, New York City Transit Authority (Petitioner), refuses to employ methadone users. The Respondent, Beazer (Respondent), brings suit on behalf of all methadone users who might work for Petitioner under the auspice that the policy violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution (Constitution).
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
A rule will violate the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution if it circumscribes a class of persons according an unpopular trait or affiliation.
Respondent applied for a job with Petitioner and was denied because he was being treated for a drug addiction with methadone. This treatment is an effective cure for the addiction, but still has a high failure rate, exceeding 25%.
Does Petitioner’s hiring policy violate the Equal Protection Clause by refusing employment to methadone users?
No. The special classification created by Petitioner’s rule serves the general objective of safety and efficiency.
It is improper to classify those who are on methadone treatment as a drug user. This discriminates against them as potential employees, when they no longer have the same traits as active users.
The majority indicates that just because a rule may create sub-classifications that are not as closely connected to achieving the legitimate interest, this does not invalidate the entire rule. The Petitioner has a legitimate interest in the safety of the services provided, even though the available positions may have had no safety responsibility, the majority is reluctant to impose judicial judgment over that of the business’ management.