In Their Opinion
Posted on January 25, 2011 by Michael Rigney
AMES v. HOME DEPOT (January 6, 2011)
Diane Ames had a five-year, incident free employment record with Home Depot when she asked her store manager for the company's assistance with her alcohol problem. She enrolled in the company's employee assistance program and was put on paid leave. She was told that she could return when she had a treatment plan, passed a drug and alcohol test, and obtained return authorization. She did so and returned to work within a month. The following month, however, she was arrested for driving under the influence. When Home Depot found out, it required her to schedule an alcohol treatment evaluation. The company gave her several extensions within which to schedule the evaluation. In the meantime, she sought scheduling accommodations from her manager so she could attend her Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, she provided her manager a treatment note from her physician, and she shared many of her other personal difficulties with her manager. During a regularly scheduled shift on December 23, an assistant manager suspected that she was under the influence of alcohol. She was immediately tested. When the company learned that she tested positive for alcohol, it decided to terminate her for substance abuse. Her manager scheduled a meeting with her on January 2 to notify her. She missed the meeting because she began drinking more and checked herself into a hospital on January 1. Home Depot mailed Ames a letter on January 10 informing her of the termination of her employment. Ames filed suit pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Judge Coar (N.D. Ill.) granted summary judgment to Home Depot on those claims. Ames appeals.
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