High Court To Decide Whether Recovering Addicts Must Be Rehired
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 8, 2003
WASHINGTON, DC--The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on a case that could determine whether employers can be sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act for refusing to rehire employees who claim to have overcome their drug or alcohol addictions.
The case involves Joel Hernandez who worked for Hughes Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona for 25 years. One day in 1991 Hernandez showed up for work under the influence of alcohol and cocaine. He quit his job that day to avoid being fired.
Two years later, after having gone through a drug and alcohol treatment program, Hernandez applied for a different job at the plant.
"I was trying to re-establish myself," Hernandez said.
The plant refused to consider his application, citing an unwritten blanket policy of refusing to rehire employees fired for breaking company rules.
Hernandez filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against the company, which is now owned by Raytheon Co., claiming the company's policy violates the ADA.
The federal anti-discrimination law protects former alcohol and drug abusers who no longer abuse drugs, often indicated by their successful completion or participation in a recognized treatment program.
Raytheon argues that its policy does not discriminate against recovering or recovered alcohol or drug abusers because it bans all workers fired for breaking company rules.
The Bush administration weighed in on the case, arguing that companies should be allowed to permanently ban workers for misconduct, including showing up on the job under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The case is Raytheon Co. v. Hernandez, 02-749.
"Court Weighs Rights of Recovering Addicts" (Associated Press via Findlaw Legal News)
"Limits of disability act tested" (Christian Science Monitor)
Supreme Court of the United States