Drug Addiction as a Disability (for ADA)

The Supreme Court is about to take up the (6/02) decision by the good old 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that a person with a history of drug abuse but who has now recovered cannot be discriminated against on that basis (IOW, even though other recoveries from past transgressions can be used against him) because he qualifies under the ADA. I’m not sure if it can be blamed on the evil 9th circuit though - they quote (page 10) from a EEOC manual that seems to say the same. (I’m not sure to what extent federal courts are bound by executive branch regulations - perhaps they just like to be guided by them absent compelling reason otherwise - perhaps a lawyer can shed some light here).

The EEOC does note that current drug use is not protected - I would guess that is not considered a reasonable accommodation, while previous drug use is.

But I object to considering drug use a disability. I am aware that from a technical standpoint you can justify calling it that - what with genetic susceptibility (at least in the parallel case of alcohol) and brain changes etc. But the same applies to anything. I don’t see how you would define a recovered drug addict as disabled and a recovered homicidal maniac as not disabled. I tend to think of disabilities as being…well…not abled. IOW something that is beyond the control of a person, not something that they have a harder time controlling than the next guy. And I would bet that most of the people who support ADA and most of the legislators who voted for it thought of disabilities in the same way.

I am a recovered drug addict and alcoholics and I am not in favor of this at all.

Granted, I don’t want to be discriminated against for something I did years ago, but come on! There are guys in wheelchairs right now who would kick my ass if I claimed to be disabled!

If I have some sort of permanent physical problem or mental damage as a result of my drug use, then sure. But the plaintiff in this case got fired for getting loaded, and then later didn’t get rehired and screamed “discrimination.” This is misuse of the ADA, IMO.

What next? Will all former tobacco users get to claim they are disabled?

You can’t control the past. Current drug use, yes, but a person can’t change the fact that he used to be addicted no matter how hard he tries.

This is how the ADA defines it:

In the case of a former drug addict or someone who has recovered from mental illness (both of these fall under “has a record of such an impairment”), it’s not about accomodating them by building ramps, buying larger monitors, installing extra equipment, etc. It’s simply a matter of not discriminating against them. These are groups that have faced lots of discrimination, even though they are perfectly capable of doing the job.

The ADA isn’t trying to get a bunch of drug users employed. In fact, they have no problem at all with employers who use drug tests during the hiring process, or even throughout employment.

Obviously. You can’t change anything in the past, which would seem to make any negative part of a person’s history into a disability no matter how voluntary the original act, according to your argument. But he was able to control it at the time he did it. So it was not a disability.

I’m not sure what your point is in general, but in any event it does not seem to apply here. In this case, the company refused to hire the guy back because of a policy against rehiring former rule-breakers. This is a general policy regarding all company rules, not just drugs/alcohol. The court’s decision said that since the drug addiction was a disability, the guy gets extra protection not available to other rule-breakers.

Sure it does. You said:

I simply showed you the ADA stance on it.

This is the position statement from Hughes:

Sure sounds like they have a problem with his former status as a drug user.

Apparently, this rule is “unwritten”:

Yes, it does. I pointed out why in my earlier post, which you dismissed.