Employment & Labor Law
Is Alcoholism a “Serious Health Condition?”
A tax filing deadline is enough to drive some to drink as they lament the lack of common sense in governmental actions. Just to show that all hope is not lost, we point to a recent instance where our government’s courts made sense out of a drinking case. With some notable exceptions, courts are becoming increasingly understanding of the realities of management and are working toward creating a level playing field.
Recently, a federal appeals court applied a common sense approach to the generally very expansive definition of “serious health conditions,” which entitle employees to protection from discipline under the Family and Medical Leave Act. In this case, the Court declined protection from discipline for an employee’s absence due to alcoholism until, and unless, the employee actually entered an addiction treatment program. The employee claimed that protection should have started from the moment he made a phone call to get an appointment for an evaluation for addiction rehabilitation. The appeals court, however, granted him protection only from the time he was actually unable to attend work due to his participation in the treatment program and not for his prior incapacity which was caused by the addiction itself. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903 (7th Cir. 2008).
An underlying message from this case, as well as many other cases, is that the courts will usually side with employers who act reasonably and exercise good judgment. A little bit of advice on how good judgment can best fit in with the legal restrictions on employers will usually allow employers to achieve their goals and avoid employees getting away with something undeserved. It is important to note that our tax dollars are producing some reasonable decisions for those informed about the legal issues. Please contact Craig M. Brooks if you have any questions.
Claims and suits brought against employers by employees are a large part of the cases being handled by the Employment lawyers at Houston Harbaugh. We focus on assisting and counseling our clients to be positioned to avoid claims, and if the claims are brought, to be prepared to defend against them.
Craig M. Brooks - Practice Chair
An employment and labor attorney, Craig primarily represents management, providing advice on how to handle employee issues and actions, as well as defending or pursuing claims in court and before government agencies on matters.
An employment and labor attorney, Craig primarily represents management, providing advice on how to handle employee issues and actions, as well as defending or pursuing claims in court and before government agencies on matters including:
- Employment discrimination claims
- Wage and hour matters
- Sexual and other harassment investigations and claims
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- Wrongful discharge
- Labor/Union matters
- Restrictive covenants
- Affirmative action programs
Craig also represents individuals with advice and pursuing claims arising out of their employment.