Archives: Substance Abuse-Related Disabilities

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New York’s Highest Court Asked to Decide Whether New York City Human Rights Law Protects Mistaken Perception of Alcoholism

New York’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, has been asked to decide the question of whether the New York City Human Rights Law permits a claim of disability discrimination based solely on a perception of untreated alcoholism. Makinen v. City of New York, et. al., Docket Nos. 16-973-cv(L), 16-1080-cv (XAP) (2d Cir., … Continue Reading

Employee Suspected of Drug Diversion Could Not Establish “Regarded as Disabled” Claim

An appellate court recently affirmed summary judgment in favor of a hospital that terminated the employment of a nurse for diverting medications, rejecting her claim that she had been perceived to be a drug addict by her employer. Demastus v. University Health System, Inc., No. E2016-00375-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. of Appeals March 2, 2017). Laura Lee … Continue Reading

New York State Announces Expanded App To Locate Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of a newly upgraded web-based search tool to help connect New York State residents struggling with addiction to treatment. The OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard application allows New Yorkers to access any service in the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services continuum of care, … Continue Reading

Employee’s ADA Claim Advanced Due To Supervisor’s Alleged Demand That Employee Admit To Substance Abuse Problem

An employee who was allegedly fired for refusing to admit he had a substance abuse problem presented sufficient evidence to advance his claim under the “regarded as” prong of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a Massachusetts federal court. The employer denied terminating the employee or demanding that he admit having a substance abuse … Continue Reading

Employee Terminated Upon Return to Work After Alcohol Treatment Could Proceed With Claims Against Employer

An employee terminated immediately upon his return from medical leave for alcohol rehabilitation presented sufficient evidence of discrimination under the Family and Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Ohio state law to present his case to a jury, according to a federal court in Ohio. The employer claimed that the employee had been … Continue Reading

EEOC Sues Employer Who Allegedly Refused to Hire Methadone User

In the last three years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed numerous lawsuits against employers who take adverse actions against applicants and employees who use prescription medications. In accordance with that trend, EEOC filed suit on November 3, 2015 against an employer who purportedly refused to hire a recovering drug addict using methadone, alleging … Continue Reading

President Announces Efforts to Target Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Epidemic

During a visit to the state of West Virginia on October 21, 2015, President Obama addressed the country’s growing prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic by announcing several efforts to address these issues. The President’s actions focus on the increase in heroin-related overdoses in recent years – which nearly doubled between 2011 and 2013. According … Continue Reading

New CDC Report Discusses Trends In Growing U.S. Heroin Epidemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have published a new report discussing trends in the growing heroin epidemic in the United States. The July 7, 2015 report examined data from the 2002 – 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which revealed significant increases in … Continue Reading

Employee’s Positive Return-to-Duty Drug Test Result Warranted Termination Despite Employer’s Use of Low Cutoff Concentrations

A Texas oil refinery whose substance abuse policy said an employee “whose drug test is positive, regardless of the reasons for the test,” would be considered in violation of company policy and “will be terminated from employment” meant what it said, a labor arbitrator has concluded. The policy, along with an agreement requiring that an … Continue Reading

National Safety Council Urges Employers to Take Steps to Address Employee Addiction to Opioid Pain Medications

The National Safety Council (“NSC”) has published a report entitled Prescription Pain Medications: A Fatal Cure For Injured Workers, urging employers to educate employees about the dangers of using opioid pain medications – such as addiction and death – while also taking steps to avoid potential liability in workers’ compensation and personal injury litigation. The … Continue Reading

Multiple DWI Convictions Don’t Create A “Record of” Alcoholism Under ADA; Driving Restrictions Don’t Support “Regarded As” Claim

A Minnesota resident lost his bid to show that state laws and rules under which he lost driving privileges due to several driving-while-impaired (DWI) offenses gave rise to violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The federal court of appeals in St. Louis affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of his complaint for failing to allege … Continue Reading

Federal Government Study Shows Persistent Substance Abuse In U.S. Workforce

Workplace-related alcohol and drug abuse continues to plague many American industries, according to a recently published government report. Heavy alcohol use among full-time workers in the U.S. aged 18 to 64 reached 17.5% in the mining industry and 16.5% in the construction industry, (the highest of any industries), data from 2008 through 2012 showed, according … Continue Reading

Alcoholic Employee’s Suit Dismissed Because He Could Not Prove He Was Disabled

A federal district court dismissed the discrimination claims of an alcoholic individual who claimed that his former employer refused to rehire him after he completed alcohol rehabilitation. Alexander v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, No. 12-cv-1959 (D.D.C. March 10, 2015). Alexander was a former employee of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (“WMATA”) who suffered … Continue Reading

Employee’s Request to Provide Information Excusing Positive Drug Test Could Trigger Obligation to Engage in Interactive Process

An employee’s request to provide medical documentation excusing a positive drug test could trigger an employer’s obligations to engage in the interactive process, according to a recent decision by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Jodi Hammel v. SOAR Corp., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14361 (E.D.Pa. Feb. 6, 2015). In … Continue Reading

Federal Court Finds New York City Not Required To Compensate Employees For Time Spent In Alcohol Rehabilitation

Click here to read our colleague Noel P. Tripp’s blog about a recent decision rejecting three New York Police officers’ claims that they should have been paid for time spent in alcohol rehabilitation and counseling sessions.  Makinen v. City of New York, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139732 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2014).… Continue Reading

Prohibiting Off-Duty Alcohol Consumption by Alcoholic Employees Violates ADA, Says EEOC

Blanket policies prohibiting alcoholic employees from consuming alcohol permanently – whether on-duty or off-duty – violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in an informal discussion letter dated August 28, 2014. The representative of a union whose members are employed by a public utility that operates nuclear … Continue Reading

Alcoholic DOT Driver Could Not Prevail on ADA or FMLA Claims Against His Employer

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a commercial motor vehicle driver’s claims that his employer violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act when it fired him after learning of his alcoholism.  Sakari Jarvela v. Crete Carrier Corporation, Case No. 13-11601 (11th Cir. June 18, 2014). The … Continue Reading

Pre-Offer Drug Tests Violated Americans with Disabilities Act

Pre-offer drug tests to determine the use of both legal and illegal drugs violated the Americans with Disabilities Act’s prohibition on pre-offer medical inquiries, a federal court in Pennsylvania held on March 6, 2014.  EEOC v. Grane Healthcare Co. and Ebensburg Care Center, LLC, d/b/a Cambria Care Center, CV No. 3:10-250 (W. Dist. Pa. Mar. … Continue Reading

Employee Who Was Discharged After Failing To Disclose Criminal Convictions For Drug Possession Was Not “Regarded As Disabled”

A mental health worker at a drug addiction treatment center was not “regarded as disabled” by his employer when he was discharged for failing to disclose three felony cocaine possession convictions on his employment application, a federal court in North Carolina has held.  Rocha v. Coastal Carolina Neuropsychiatric Crisis Servs., P.A., No. 7:12-CV-2-D (E.D.N.C. Oct. … Continue Reading

No ADA or FMLA Claim For Employee Who Twice Failed to Complete Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program

An employee who twice failed to complete a substance abuse treatment program was not protected by either the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Family and Medical Leave Act, according to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Shirley v. Precision Castparts et al (5th Cir. August 12, 2013).   The employer terminated the employee for leaving … Continue Reading

Employee Can Proceed with ADA Suit After Arrest For Public Drunkenness

A federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled that an alcoholic employee may proceed with claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) after she was fired for failing to report to work when she was arrested for public drunkenness.  Diaz v. Saucon Valley Manor Inc., No. 12-0433 (E.D. Pa. March 5, 2013).  The evidence showed … Continue Reading
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