Can My Job Description Be Changed For Going to Alcohol Treatment?
The bar against discrimination in the workplace applies to recruitment, advertising and job application processes, hiring, upgrading, promotion, award of tenure, discharge, demotion, transfer, layoff, rehiring, compensation, leave, and various benefits. To be eligible for such protection, an employee must disclose the disability to the employer.
Drug addiction may qualify as a disability under the discrimination laws.
Employers are permitted to fire an alcoholic employee if he or she "fails to meet work-related performance and behavior standards" to which all other employees must adhere.
Employees with disabilities who are qualified for their jobs may be entitled to reasonable accommodations in the workplace. However, in many cases it may be difficult for the employee, especially where cognitive impairments are involved, to establish that he or she is both substantially limited in a major life activity and at the same time qualified for the job. The accommodations sought must also be reasonable, and reasonableness depends upon the nature of the particular job.
The accommodation must be specific. For example, an employer is not required to provide reduced stress in the workplace because the employer would not be able to control all of the factors that produce stress. Furthermore, compliance by the employer would depend upon the employee's asseessment of his or her stress level at any given time. The employee must prove that there is a need for the accommodations based upon the disability; the employee's desire for the accommodations is not sufficient. For example, the employee cannot insist upon the day shift rather than the night shift simply because the employee prefers the day shift.
Over 90 percent of ADA cases are won by employers because of the difficulties showing the reasonableness of the accommodations and proving that the employee is substantially limited but nonetheless qualified for the job. Before taking legal action, it is important to evaluate your legal position and to consider the possibility of informally working out a mutually acceptable solution with your employer. Many employers will agree to make reasonable accommodations in order to improve the performance of the employee. In the event legal action is pursued, professional documentation of the disability and the need for accommodations will be of great importance.
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