Alcoholism: a disability; drunkenness: a firing offense

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in Firing,Human Resources

Alcoholism may be a disability, but that doesn’t mean alcoholic employees can get away with showing up at work a little tipsy.

Recent case: Home Depot employee Diane Ames requested time off to deal with a drinking problem. She signed an agreement that required her to undergo alcohol testing.

Ames returned and shortly her supervisor thought she smelled of alcohol and was slurring her speech. When a blood-alcohol test came back positive, Home Depot fired her.

Ames sued, alleging she should have been allowed to undergo more treatment as an accommodation of her disability—alcoholism. But the court disagreed, concluding it was reasonable for Home Depot to expect Ames to follow its no-alcohol-at-work rule. (Ames v. Home Depot, No. 09-4151, 7th Cir., 2011)

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