Question: One of the facilities we operate has a formal dining room and bar. One of our directors found a bartender drinking wine while on duty. We have a rule that drinking by employees isn’t allowed on the premises at all. We would like to fire her. If she tells us she has a drinking problem, would the termination violate her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
Answer: It’s widely accepted that the ADA protects qualified individuals who suffer from alcoholism and meet the standards for establishing a disability. The Act, however, doesn’t protect employees from failing to comply with legitimate workplace rules.
Under the ADA, qualified employees are protected from discrimination if they are disabled, have a “record” of being disabled, are “regarded” as being disabled by the employer, or are “known to have a relationship or association” with another person who has a disability. “Disability” is defined as a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such impairment.” The definition would cover activities such as caring for yourself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, sleeping, walking, communicating, thinking, and working. It also includes the operation of a major bodily function.
Read the full article, “No Protection for Drinking on the Job” written by Reggie Gay.