View Poll Results: Is alcohol abuse a disability; do you agree or disagree with the EEOC?

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  • I agree alcohol abuse is a disability, I agree with the EEOC position

    4 9.09%
  • I agree alcohol abuse is a disability, I disagree with the EEOC position

    3 6.82%
  • I disagree that alcohol abuse is a disability, I agree with the EEOC position

    2 4.55%
  • I disagree that alcohol abuse is a disability, I disagree with the EEOC position

    25 56.82%
  • Rutabega

    3 6.82%
  • Other (Explain please)

    7 15.91%
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Thread: Is alcohol abuse a "disability"?

  1. #241
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    Re: Is alcohol abuse a "disability"?

    Quote Originally Posted by digsbe View Post
    Alcohol abuse is not a disability.
    Strictly speaking...alcohol abuse is not a disability. Alcohol DEPENDENCE on the other hand is considered a disease. The term (thank you AA) "once an alcoholic always an alcoholic" is appropriate only if you buy into the disease model of alcoholism. Alcoholism (alcohol dependence) is a symptom of a problem. Treat the symptom and you never resolve the problem...you simply chase symptoms. Treat the actual PROBLEM...in most cases the symptom is 'cured'.

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    Re: Is alcohol abuse a "disability"?

    Quote Originally Posted by VanceMack View Post
    Strictly speaking...alcohol abuse is not a disability. Alcohol DEPENDENCE on the other hand is considered a disease. The term (thank you AA) "once an alcoholic always an alcoholic" is appropriate only if you buy into the disease model of alcoholism. Alcoholism (alcohol dependence) is a symptom of a problem. Treat the symptom and you never resolve the problem...you simply chase symptoms. Treat the actual PROBLEM...in most cases the symptom is 'cured'.
    Do you hold the position that alcoholism can be a predisposition you are born with?

  3. #243
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    Re: Is alcohol abuse a "disability"?

    Quote Originally Posted by evanescence View Post
    Wait- did he just compare diabetes and heart disease to alcoholism?
    Which one do you think can't possibly be a disability?
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  4. #244
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    Re: Is alcohol abuse a "disability"?

    Quote Originally Posted by digsbe View Post
    Alcohol abuse is not a disability and should not be treated as such. A private company can do what they want.
    Let's amend that statement to include at the end "...as long as they comply with the law".

    The notion that a business can do whatever it wants and bears no responsibility/suffers no consequence for their actions is not only ridiculous, but dangerous! Want proof? Consider all the companies that dumped toxic waste into our water supply either before or after EPA regulations were passed. Or what about a company that subjects its employees to slave labor. Or a construction company that cuts corners and uses substandard building materials or don't follow building safety codes. Or how about financial institutions making all kinds of deals and taking risks at astronomical rates. Look at where their lack of adherence to federal regulations has got us...

    Granted, the situation as outlined in the OP doesn't come near the level or life and death as the examples I've summarized above, but the trucking company still has a responsibility to follow the law and that includes treating the employee fairly under the law. A company's CEO can make any internal policy he/she wants but those policies still have to adhere to the law.
    Last edited by Objective Voice; 09-07-11 at 05:21 PM.

  5. #245
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    Re: Is alcohol abuse a "disability"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Helix View Post
    My opinion is that if the driver is sober, then the driver is not violating laws or the terms of his employment. If you would argue otherwise, cite some studies that show the addiction alone is an impairment to driving performance even in the absence of the intoxicating substance. If that theory is supported by peer reviewed studies, I will reconsider.
    Do you have any documentation that shows the terms of his employment? Unless you have something showing the company polices then how do you know if the company has or has not a policy that states no alcoholics are allowed to drive company vehicles regardless of DUI status or number of years "dry"? You are correct to imply that he has not violated any law (however, just because he admitted to being an alcoholic does not mean he didn't drive under the influence, not get caught and just not reported it.)

    Quote Originally Posted by sangha View Post
    And some things are so obviously made up

    The company has no such policy because under the ADA it is illegal to have such a policy. You just made that policy up out of thin air
    I didn't make anything up. I brought up a possibility. I said IF they had such a policy. I do not know whether or not it exists. Nor do I see where it would automatically be illegal under the ADA. The ADA requires a company to make reasonable accommodations for disabilities. Dictation software for a paraplegic is reasonable for a position that requires typing. It would be unreasonable to expect a paraplegic to be given a job to move furniture or drive trucks. The debate here in this thread and soon to be in court is whether or not allowing a known alcoholic to drive a commercial vehicle violates reasonable accommodations or not. Unless there is a court case that showed exactly that (and I'll review the thread but I don't recall seeing one at this posting) then the issue is very much up for grabs and is not cut and dry.

    Adding a couple of things from earlier when I ran out of time...

    I do have issues with alcoholism being called a disease or disability. I grant that the medical community has given it these labels, but such things can change. Sadism and Masochism are no longer considered disorders unless they fall under certain narrow guidelines. Thus these things are subject to change. Now I agree that addictive personality (or what ever label is given to the genetic predisposition) is an actual problem and like many other conditions that are genetic in nature needs to be managed as such cannot be cured at this stage in our medical technology. As to it being a disability, I'm a little more iffy on that, especially since there are two potential causes. There is the addictive personality condition where really anything (sex, video games, books, etc) can become an addiction and then there is the chemical type of addiction.

    My final thought in this is that I would push for the court to place the liability of this driver for any alcoholic related event (and only that type of event) on the EEOC and not the company. If the EEOC wants this guy on the road then on their head be it. In for a penny...

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    Re: Is alcohol abuse a "disability"?

    From the Americans with Disability Act:

    Disability - The ADA defines disability broadly covering people in three categories:

    - people who currently have a disability,
    - people who have a history of disability, and
    - people who are perceived as disabled by others whether or not they actually have a disability.

    A disability is an impairment, either mental or physical, that limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include the ability to care for yourself, learn, work, walk, see, hear, speak, breathe, or maintain social relationships, among others. In the EEOC Enforcement Guidance on the ADA and People with Psychiatric Disabilities, examples of the definition of psychiatric disabilities, also known as mental illnesses, are described. Go to the Summary of this Guidance on this page, or link directly to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to get a full copy of the text.

    The ADA also covers past history of alcoholism and drug abuse if the person is no longer currently using illegal substances. Alcoholism is covered as a disability if a person is still abusing alcohol, although it does not prohibit an employer from taking disciplinary action for unsatisfactory performance or failure to comply with company policy.

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    Re: Is alcohol abuse a "disability"?

    Now, I think we all can agree that no company wants to hire an addict whether that addiction be for drugs or alcohol. However, as none of us knows precisely what the circumstances were concerning the driver's demotion, i.e., did the company hire him knowing of his addiction history, if any; was the employee issued verbal or written reprimands for his intoxication; was he offerred counseling/treatment to combat his acoholism prior to the current offense, we really can't say for sure if his demotion was justified. On the surface, it sounds like the employee notified his immediate supervisor he had a problem and was subsequently demoted for it. But we really don't know the employee's history. So, I don't think it's fair to make a snap judgement call here.
    Can a company temporarily reassign an employee they believe is a risk to him/herself and company assets or poses a safety risk to him/herself or the general public? Yes! They could even fire an employee under such circumstances. But if the employee comes to you as his/her employer and informs you he/she has a problem, the employers cannot arbitrarily fire or demote the employee without first giving the employee the opportunity to correct the problem. Based on the OP, I'd say that is the problem here.

    (Note: I apologize for the fragmented posts. I keep trying to edit my commentary accordingly, but for some reason the system won't allow me to do that.)

  8. #248
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    Re: Is alcohol abuse a "disability"?

    Quote Originally Posted by maquiscat View Post
    Do you have any documentation that shows the terms of his employment? Unless you have something showing the company polices then how do you know if the company has or has not a policy that states no alcoholics are allowed to drive company vehicles regardless of DUI status or number of years "dry"? You are correct to imply that he has not violated any law (however, just because he admitted to being an alcoholic does not mean he didn't drive under the influence, not get caught and just not reported it.)
    It is illegal to have a policy that says no alcoholics are allowed to drive. A company can have a policy about drinking on the job, but they can't have a policy that discriminates against the disabled.




    I didn't make anything up. I brought up a possibility. I said IF they had such a policy. I do not know whether or not it exists. Nor do I see where it would automatically be illegal under the ADA. The ADA requires a company to make reasonable accommodations for disabilities. Dictation software for a paraplegic is reasonable for a position that requires typing. It would be unreasonable to expect a paraplegic to be given a job to move furniture or drive trucks. The debate here in this thread and soon to be in court is whether or not allowing a known alcoholic to drive a commercial vehicle violates reasonable accommodations or not. Unless there is a court case that showed exactly that (and I'll review the thread but I don't recall seeing one at this posting) then the issue is very much up for grabs and is not cut and dry.
    And again, it is against the law, under the ADA, to have a policy that alcoholics are not allowed to work driving, so yes, you made it up. A parapalegic can't lift heavy furniture, but an alcoholic can drive a truck WHEN SOBER. Therefore, a company can have a policy about drinking on the job, but they can't have a policy that discriminates against alcoholics.


    Adding a couple of things from earlier when I ran out of time...

    I do have issues with alcoholism being called a disease or disability. I grant that the medical community has given it these labels, but such things can change. Sadism and Masochism are no longer considered disorders unless they fall under certain narrow guidelines. Thus these things are subject to change. Now I agree that addictive personality (or what ever label is given to the genetic predisposition) is an actual problem and like many other conditions that are genetic in nature needs to be managed as such cannot be cured at this stage in our medical technology. As to it being a disability, I'm a little more iffy on that, especially since there are two potential causes. There is the addictive personality condition where really anything (sex, video games, books, etc) can become an addiction and then there is the chemical type of addiction.

    My final thought in this is that I would push for the court to place the liability of this driver for any alcoholic related event (and only that type of event) on the EEOC and not the company. If the EEOC wants this guy on the road then on their head be it. In for a penny...
    Your "issues" don't matter; the facts do. And science has a say in the matter too. The facts show that alcoholism is a disability.

    As far as liability goes, I have already stated that, under the ADA, the employer can re-assign the worker to another position at equal pay.
    Quote Originally Posted by matchlight View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaeger19 View Post
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  9. #249
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    Re: Is alcohol abuse a "disability"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Objective Voice View Post
    Now, I think we all can agree that no company wants to hire an addict whether that addiction be for drugs or alcohol. However, as none of us knows precisely what the circumstances were concerning the driver's demotion, i.e., did the company hire him knowing of his addiction history, if any; was the employee issued verbal or written reprimands for his intoxication; was he offerred counseling/treatment to combat his acoholism prior to the current offense, we really can't say for sure if his demotion was justified. On the surface, it sounds like the employee notified his immediate supervisor he had a problem and was subsequently demoted for it. But we really don't know the employee's history. So, I don't think it's fair to make a snap judgement call here.
    Can a company temporarily reassign an employee they believe is a risk to him/herself and company assets or poses a safety risk to him/herself or the general public? Yes! They could even fire an employee under such circumstances. But if the employee comes to you as his/her employer and informs you he/she has a problem, the employers cannot arbitrarily fire or demote the employee without first giving the employee the opportunity to correct the problem. Based on the OP, I'd say that is the problem here.

    (Note: I apologize for the fragmented posts. I keep trying to edit my commentary accordingly, but for some reason the system won't allow me to do that.)
    This is precisely what I've been noting. It doesn't matter if it is Fox or MSNBC, these news blurbs are seriously short on facts, which may simply be because the reporters can't get to them. And while on the surface it may look like it's a problem, we really don't know out here in webland. We'll find out more details later to be sure as the case progresses, unless someone has a link to all the details of this case. But till then...

    Quote Originally Posted by sangha View Post
    And again, it is against the law, under the ADA, to have a policy that alcoholics are not allowed to work driving, so yes, you made it up.
    So NO I didn't make it up. Yes I did bring up a supposition lacking full knowledge of how the EEOC applies the ADA and the language of the ADA. To make it up is to call it fact. I did not do that. I did not say that they indeed had that policy. And hell for that matter they could have had that policy, illegal or not. Even if the policy was illegal, then the driver could still have violated the policy. Period. Granted that is still grounds for legal action and all, but you can't say for sure that he didn't violate the company policy unless you can show the company policy.

    I really doubt that there is anyone here on this board, short of a lawyer and even then I am doubtful, that knows all the regulations and all the rulings of all various industries and agencies. This is why big companies have teams of lawyers and small businesses are constantly getting in trouble for stuff that rest of us just go "Wha..?" over. And again, I ask, has there ever been a case where a court ruled on an alcoholic driver who hasn't knowingly to others driven under the influence and been fired or demoted before? If not there is no direct precedence and if the courts should rule that the business was in its rights then such a policy would NOT be illegal. This would be the first legal test of this specific application. And even if there is precedence, it wouldn't be the first time that a court ruled against precedence, although I doubt that they would. Even if we believe that something should and would be covered under law, the courts are the final word on that.


    Your "issues" don't matter; the facts do. And science has a say in the matter too. The facts show that alcoholism is a disability.

    As far as liability goes, I have already stated that, under the ADA, the employer can re-assign the worker to another position at equal pay.
    My "issues" matter in so far as they were in response to the OP poll. When one puts out that kind of poll with whether or not you agree with something then the opinions as to why, are valid responses. I agree that science does have a say. Science had a say in removing the "Mental Disorder" label from Sadism and Masochism. The labels are not set in concrete. Bolted on with steel maybe. But still changeable. So the facts don't show that alcoholism is a disability. The facts as currently viewed support that position, or maybe you can say that the facts currently show that alcoholism is a disability, but that one word makes a big difference. The facts previously showed that Masochism was a mental disorder, now they show that it is a social deviancy.

  10. #250
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    Re: Is alcohol abuse a "disability"?

    Quote Originally Posted by 1Perry View Post
    Do you hold the position that alcoholism can be a predisposition you are born with?
    Me? Nope. Ive yet to see the 'alcohol gene'. Ive seen LOTS of people who come from families of absolute T-totalers that have become raging alcoholics. Environment...self esteem. Its seldom very hard to find where the problems originate.

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