In Search of Common Ground: Leveling the Playing Field for Chemically Dependent Workers Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Kenneth J. Vanko   |   1996 U. Ill. L. Rev.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) protects employees suffering from disabling conditions by requiring their employers to provide them with reasonable accommodations. One of the more controversial provisions of the ADA involves the protection extended to alcoholic and chemically dependent workers. Although the Act protects both current and recovering alcoholics, it extends coverage only to recovering drug abusers, while neglecting workers suffering from current drug addiction. The author of this note contends that the distinction between current alcoholics and current drug abusers undermines the purposes of the ADA. The author first examines the ADA's predecessor, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and recent ADA case law to illustrate how the distinction has arisen. Next, he details the typical analysis undertaken by a court hearing a chemically dependent worker's ADA claim. Finally, he formulates a test to be applied to ADA cases involving chemically dependent workers--a test more faithful to the purposes of the ADA--and poses suggestions for further reform.