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Press Release

Justice Department Secures Settlement Agreement with the Indiana State Nursing Board Addressing Discrimination Against People with Opioid Use Disorder

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS – Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, and the Justice Department announced today that it has entered into a settlement agreement with the Indiana State Board of Nursing (Nursing Board) to resolve claims it violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The settlement agreement ensures that nurses who take medication to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) can remain on their medication when participating in the Indiana State Nursing Assistance Program. The program assists in rehabilitating and monitoring nurses with substance use disorders, and is often required for these nurses to maintain an active license or have one reinstated. The department previously notified the Nursing Board of its findings, and described the remedial measures necessary for the Nursing Board to address the ADA violation identified. This case was handled jointly by the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana.

“The opioid epidemic has greatly impacted professionals and families of all walks of life, and Indiana nurses have the right to seek medically approved treatment for opioid use disorder under federal law,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers for the Southern District of Indiana. “Following the Justice Department’s findings and the parties’ settlement agreement, Indiana must now enact policies to ensure that Hoosier nurses will not be forced to choose between their recovery and their livelihoods.”

“Indiana may not deny individuals life-saving medications, including medications that treat opioid use disorder, based on stereotypes and misinformation,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Requiring nurses to stop taking prescribed medication as a condition of maintaining a nursing license violates the ADA, and not only creates barriers to recovery, but inappropriately limits employment opportunities based on disability.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the Nursing Board will allow nurses to participate in the states’ rehabilitation program while taking medication, including medication to treat OUD, when the medication is prescribed by a licensed practitioner as part of a medically necessary treatment plan and incorporated into a recovery monitoring agreement. In addition, the Nursing Board has agreed to revise its written polices to ensure that nurses taking prescribed medications for OUD are not subjected to discriminatory conditions or terms. The Nursing Board has also agreed to pay a total of $70,000 in damages to the complainant, and to report periodically on its compliance to the United States.

Methadone and buprenorphine (including brand names Subutex and Suboxone) are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat OUD. According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), methadone and buprenorphine help diminish the effects of physical dependency on opioids. When taken as prescribed, these medications are safe and effective.

The Civil Rights Division, together with U.S. Attorneys’ offices, has been working to remove discriminatory barriers to recovery for individuals who have completed, or are participating in, treatment for OUD. Through outreach, technical assistance and enforcement under the ADA, the Civil Rights Division seeks to ensure that those in treatment or recovery can successfully participate in their communities and the workforce. For example:

  • On April 5, 2022, the department issued guidance on protections for people with OUD under the ADA.
  • On March 24, 2022, the department entered into a Settlement Agreement with the Massachusetts Trial Court to resolve allegations that its drug court violated the ADA by discriminating against individuals with OUD.
  • On March 17, 2022, the department entered into a Settlement Agreement with Ready to Work, a Colorado-based employment, residential and social services program for individuals experiencing homelessness, resolving allegations that the program denied admission to an individual because she takes medication for OUD.
  • On February 24, 2022, the department filed a lawsuit against the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, alleging that it prohibits or otherwise limits participants in its court supervision programs from using medication to treat OUD.


For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit Complaints about disability-based discrimination may be reported to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana by submitting a Civil Rights Complaint form, which can be found here, or sending an email to

Updated April 17, 2023

Labor & Employment
Civil Rights