Accommodating disabled employees

In their ADA lawsuit, seven of the eight plaintiffs said they had either completed drug rehabilitation programs or were in the process of rehabilitation at the time they were fired, so they were not current users.

If a recovering drug addict is not currently illegally using drugs, then he or she may be entitled to reasonable accommodation. 12102(2)] requires that disabilities be evaluated with respect to an individual and be determined based on whether an impairment substantially limits the individuals major life activities, the question whether a person has a disability under the ADA is an individualized inquiry.

In order for a person to be substantially limited because of drug use, s/he must be addicted to the drug.

The definition of current is critical because the ADA only excludes someone from protection when that person is a current user of illegal drugs.

Most people can manage their medication needs independently, but sometimes help may be needed.

When they do, the employer will argueand usually with successthat the employee is a current user despite his or her recent admission into a drug rehabilitation program. The Circuit Courts of Appeals have held that a person can still be considered a current user even if he or she has not used drugs for a number of weeks or even months. El Paso Healthcare Systems, Ltd., the court held that the employee, a pharmacist, was a current user because he had used cocaine five weeks prior to his notification that he was going to be discharged. Circuit City Stores, Inc., In concluding that the plaintiff was still a current illegal drug user, the court noted that the ordinary or natural meaning of the phrase currently using drugs does not require that a drug user have a heroin syringe in his arm or a marijuana bong to his mouth at the exact moment contemplated. A question sometimes arises as to whether a drug addicted employee who breaks the company rules can, before being disciplined, enroll in a supervised drug rehabilitation program, and then claim ADA protection as a former drug addict who no longer illegally uses drugs. This provision actually serves as something of a disincentive to employers to offer rehabilitation and other services to employees before addressing any substantive performance problems. For example, if an alcoholic employee and a non-alcoholic employee are caught having a beer on the loading dock, the employer cannot fire the alcoholic employee while giving the other employee only a written warning. It held that even though an employer can enforce its rules against intoxication on the job, it could not selectively enforce its rules in a way that treats alcoholics more harshly. In response, Senator Harkin stated, No, there is no such legal obligation. for any current employee who is [an] alcoholic against whom employment-related actions are taken for performance or conduct reasons. 1995), the plaintiff had illegally used drugs and entered a drug treatment center prior to his termination. The ADA does not require an employer to provide an alcohol rehabilitation program or to offer rehabilitation in lieu of disciplining an employee for alcohol-related misconduct or performance problems. The Senate report echoes Senator Harkins response that reasonable accommodation does not affirmatively require that a covered entity must provide a rehabilitation program or an opportunity for rehabilitation . Firm choice generally entails a warning to employees with alcohol-related employment problems that they will be disciplined if they do not receive alcohol treatment. The court held that even though the plaintiff had entered treatment, he still was not protected by the ADA because he had not been drug free for a considerable length of time.

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This in turn boosts the organisation’s disability confidence, competitiveness and inclusiveness of customers and employees.

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