Legal Memorandum: Removal for Improper Off-duty Conduct

Issue: Under federal law, could a federal agency terminate an alcoholic employee who was intoxicated on the job?

Area of Law: Administrative Law, Administrative Law & Regulation (Federal and State), Employee Law
Keywords: Removal 'solely because of alcohol abuse; Federal agency
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: 29 U.S.C. Sec. 794; 29 U.S.C. § 290-1(b); 29 U.S.C. § 791
Date: 10/01/2000

“[The] Rehabilitation Act,  SEQ CHAPTER h r 1Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Act of 1970 (the “Hughes” Act, 29 U.S.C. § 290-1(b)) only protects against removal ‘solely because of alcohol abuse.’ (29 U.S.C. Sec. 794) [and] does not prohibit an employer from discharging an employee for improper off-duty conduct when the reason for the discharge is the conduct itself and not any handicap to which the conduct may be related.”  Richardson v. U.S. Postal Serv., 619 F.2d 1213 (D.C. Cir. 1985). 

In a complete discussion of the sections which protect persons with disabilities, Section 501 (codified as 29 U.S.C. § 791) and Section 504 (codified as 29 U.S.C. § 794), the court noted that sections seemed to overlap–each with slightly different requirements with which the disabled person must comply and which offer different types of protection once compliance is reached.


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