Alcoholism is considered a disability by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because people who are addicted to alcohol have little-to-no control over their drinking patterns. A disability impairs performance in different areas of life and is something a person has no control over. If you are attending rehab for alcoholism, you should not be fired because you are taking active steps to overcome your addiction. However, whether you can keep your job can depend on the severity of your alcoholism and whether alcohol problems are carried into the workplace.
Recovering alcoholics who are able to maintain abstinence and general stability should neither be fired nor denied a job. A person’s history of alcohol problems has no bearing on whether they can currently hold a job. The ADA protects these people and those who are attending rehab.
There are certain accommodations that an employer is required to make if you are an alcoholic attending rehab. Your work schedule will be altered to allow you time to continue attending rehab. You will also be granted a leave of absence if you require prolonged treatment. However, there are limits to accommodations and rules that restrict certain actions that could be detrimental to the workplace.
According to the ADA, employers have the right to forbid the use of alcohol inside the workplace, fire employees who are intoxicated while at work, and demand the same work performance by an employee with alcoholism as any other employee. This means that, even if symptoms of alcoholism, like withdrawal, impair your ability to complete tasks at work, you can still be given the same penalties as other employees who do not have a disability.
This does not always mean you will be fired immediately for poor performance related to alcohol. Whatever penalty an employee without a disability would receive for the transgression is the same penalty that you would receive. Your boss may talk with you about what happened or may give you a written warning.
Accommodations are beneficial but limited. Your employer is not obligated to grant you a leave of absence if treatment does not appear to be improving your problem with alcohol; this especially applies if that treatment has failed multiple times in the past. It is important that you ask for accommodations because employers are not expected to automatically give you accommodations and some may be are unaware of an employee’s problem with alcohol. Rehab will not be offered by your employer, you will need to find one.
If you are struggling with your use of alcohol or if you are attending rehab and have been wrongfully fired or denied a position, then consider seeking legal guidance. Philadelphia disability lawyers work with clients who have been denied disability benefits and accommodations that different organizations are required to provide. Call the disability lawyers at Edelstein, Martin & Nelson at (800) 300-0909 for a consultation today. We will answer any questions you may have and will fight for the benefits you deserve.