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Fired pharmacy worker sues Walmart over drug testing procedures

By: - July 27, 2022 10:52 am

An Iowa pharmacy worker is suing Walmart, claiming the retailer's drug testing procedures don't meet the requirements of state law. (Photo by Getty Images)

A Clarke County pharmacy worker is suing Walmart, claiming the retailer fired her after she failed an improperly administered drug test.

In her lawsuit, Misty Coenen alleges that in 2014, Walmart hired her to work in one of the company’s stores as a pharmacy technician.

On Oct. 22, 2021, the lawsuit claims, District Manager Nancy Laymon called Coenen into her office where the two spoke to Walmart Global Investigator John Oldfather.

Coenen alleges Oldfather told her she needed to submit to a drug test based on reasonable suspicion of drug use that stemmed from a text-message exchange she had with someone four months earlier.

The next day, she submitted to the drug test, but the urine sample she provided was not split into two samples, as is normally the case, to allow for two separate tests. A few weeks later, she was fired, with her termination letter stating she had tested positive for drugs of some kind.

Her lawsuit alleges Walmart’s drug testing policy does not comport with the requirements of Iowa law in that there was no rational basis for the test, and the test itself did not result in the sample being split into two components, denying her the right to obtain a second test at a laboratory of her choosing.

Criminal court records indicate that in July 2021, Clarke County authorities obtained a search warrant for Coenen’s phone after she was charged with violating a no-contact order.

That case resulted in a deferred judgment but based on text messages recovered from her phone, Coenen was subsequently charged with 18 counts of violating a no-contact order. Those charges are still pending.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.