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For Violating Americans with Disabilities Act, Federal Government Sues Trucking Company Which Fired Alcoholic Driver

Old Dominion Freight Line in Arkansas is facing a federal lawsuit for violating the disability act rights of a driver they fired for being an alcoholic (the driver had never violated the company’s alcohol policies).

Under the conditions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a person with an alcohol abuse problem has a recognized disability. If that person gets treatment and follows the alcohol policies of the employer then he or she cannot be terminated or sanctioned based on the alcohol abuse or alcoholism – no matter what the occupation.

Old Dominion Freight Line is facing a federal lawsuit for sanctioning (effectively terminating) a driver who self reported an alcohol abuse problem and who was sent for treatment counseling. The driver had worked for the company for 5 years and had never been found in violation of alcohol polices. Nevertheless, the driver was told that upon completion of alcohol treatment he would never again be reinstated as a working driver with the company.

After evaluating the case, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has determined that the company is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and has filed suit on behalf of the terminated employee.

In a statement, the EEOC wrote, “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. 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.”

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