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November 24 2015

Employees Under The Influence: Disabled But Not Unfireable

The University of Southern California recently terminated Steve Sarkisian, their head football coach. The firing came after a cavalcade of headlines that Sarkisian was increasingly showing up at practices, team functions, and even games allegedly under the influence of alcohol. The way USC handled the situation with a high-profile employee offers instruction on how to handle employees with substance abuse issues out of the public eye. The disease of alcoholism meets the definition of a disability, which means that an employer can't take into account that an employee is an alcoholic when making employment decisions. However, an employer may maintain a blanket prohibition on drinking at work that applies to both alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike. An employee who can't meet those standards because of drinking may be disciplined, whether they are an alcoholic or not.