Overly accommodating meaning
specifically permits employers to ensure that the workplace is free from the illegal use of drugs and the use of alcohol, and to comply with other federal laws and regulations regarding drug and alcohol use. At the same time, the ADA provides limited protection from discrimination for recovering drug abusers and for alcoholics.[A] person who casually used drugs illegally in the past, but did not become addicted is not an individual with a disability based on the past drug use. The defense of direct threat is one that is raised frequently by employers in dealing with issues of substance abuse. Its membership includes major employers and employer organizations, including leading American companies in petrochemical, manufacturing, high technology, construction, pharmaceutical, hospitality, retail, and transportation industries. The ADA defines direct threat as a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation. The institute is active on legislative, legal, and regulatory issues at the federal, state, and local levels. In Senate proceedings, Senator Daniel Coats (R-IN) asked Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the ADAs chief sponsor, Is the employer under a legal obligation under the act to provide rehabilitation for an employee who is using . The EEOCs rationale is that the Rehabilitation Act was amended in 1992 to apply ADA standards, and that the ADA does not require an employer to excuse misconduct for poor performance, even if it is related to alcoholism. In this case, the plaintiff said that he had not used drugs for only a few weeks. In EEOCs Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship statement, the EEOC reiterated that an employer has no obligation to provide firm choice or a last chance agreement as a reasonable accommodation. Employers do not have to provide an accommodation that causes an undue hardship, meaning significant difficulty or expense. The social and economic costs of substance abuse in America are staggering. 1998) (alcoholism is covered under the Rehabilitation Act); Miners v. Office of Senate Fair Employment Practices, 95 F.3d 1102 (Fed. 1996) (it is well-established that alcoholism meets the definition of a disability).
Moreover, the EEOC has emphasized, in its Interpretive Guidance on Title I of the ADA, that an employer may not deny employment to an individual with a disability merely because of a slightly increased risk.
If an individual who has alcoholism often is late to work, or is unable to perform the responsibilities of his/her job, an employer can take disciplinary action on the basis of the poor job performance and conduct. Another defense to an allegation of discrimination is direct threat, meaning a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation.
However, an employer may not discipline an alcoholic employee more severely than it does other employees for the same performance or conduct.
The risk can only be considered when it poses a significant risk, i.e., high probability of substantial harm; a speculative or remote risk is insufficient. With respect to substance abuse and the ADA, courts have generally recognized an employers prerogative to formulate and rely upon safety-based job qualifications, even though they may screen out individuals with disabilities.
The EEOC argued that the companys policy was invalid on its face because it did not provide, as mandated by ADA regulations, for an individualized assessment of whether former drug abusers were qualified to work in any of the designated safety-sensitive positions.