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EEOC & Alcoholism!

"Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., a trucking company with a service center in Fort Smith, Ark., violated federal law by discriminating against at least one truck driver because of self-reported alcohol abuse, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit.

"The company should have met its legal obligation to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) while assuring safety, rather than permanently sidelining self-reporting drivers, the EEOC contended."

So let me break it down for you: while most folks think of the disabled as someone like a war veteran who is confined to a wheelchair because they sacrificed one or more limbs for their country, it also includes drunken yahoos careening down the interstate in an 18-wheeler.

That's right, alcoholism is a recognized disability under the ADA and disability discrimination is against the law.

"The ADA mandates that persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to achieve in the workplace. Old Dominion's policy and practice of never returning an employee who self-reports an alcohol problem to a driving position violates that law," said Katharine Kores, director of the EEOC's Memphis district office.

"While the EEOC agrees that an employer's concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA," Kores said.

The suit seeks monetary relief, reinstatement to a driving position, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, compensation for lost benefits, and an injunction against future discrimination. — Audrey Hudson
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