Issue: What was the federal law on alcoholism as a disability in 1987?
Area of Law:
Administrative Law, Administrative Law & Regulation (Federal and State)
Hughes Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 290dd-1(b), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, 29 U.S.C. Secs. 701-794, in particular Sec. 791(b)
The general law surrounding the interpretation of the statutes was (and is) tumultuous. This is in part due to the complexity of the statutory framework appearing to provide certain remedies, for instance, for persons who were either dysfunctional alcoholics in the past or current functional alcoholics, but not for dysfunctional/practicing current alcoholics. Hundreds of pages have been written in law reviews and journals on just the minor differences in wording and applications and protections of these statutes and this memo cannot possibly delve into even a good representation of them. For a good overall discussion and evolution of the federal employment disability statutes and how various circuits have treated them historically and now, see Anne Robbins, Employment Discrimination Against Substance Abusers: The Federal Response, 22 B. C. L. Rev. 155 (1991). One plaintiff brought his claims under the Hughes Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 290dd-1(b), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, 29 U.S.C. Secs. 701-794, in particular Sec. 791(b). However many courts have collapsed the protections and requirements of Secs. 791 and 794.
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