Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Alcoholism and the ADA

USC recently fired its head football coach for allegedly missing practice, only to show up later to a special teams meeting drunk. Sometimes current events serve as good reminders of employment law issues. Let's quickly review alcoholism and the ADA.

The EEOC has provided some helpful guidance:
The ADA may protect a “qualified” alcoholic who can meet the definition of “disability.” . . . . The ADA specifically provides that employers may require an employee who is an alcoholic or who engages in the illegal use of drugs to meet the same standards of performance and behavior as other employees. This means that poor job performance or unsatisfactory behavior – such as absenteeism, tardiness, insubordination, or on-the-job accidents – related to an employee’s alcoholism or illegal use of drugs need not be tolerated if similar performance or conduct would not be acceptable for other employees . . . . The ADA specifically permits employers to prohibit the use of alcohol or the illegal use of drugs in the workplace.86 Consequently, an employee who violates such policies, even if the conduct stems from alcoholism or drug addiction, may face the same discipline as any other employee. The ADA also permits employers to require that employees not be under the influence of alcohol or the illegal use of drugs in the workplace.
As I succinctly put it on Twitter yesterday: