Is Current Drug Use Protected Under ADA?

According to the case of Scott v. Harrah’s LLC, applicants and employees currently using illegal drugs or marijuana are not covered by protections contained in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). In this blog, we explain the implications of the ruling made in this case.

Case Details

In Scott v. Harrah’s LLC, an employee working at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino told his manger that he had a drug addiction and was voluntarily looking to enroll in treatment and rehab. Harrah’s Hotel and Casino adjusted the employees schedule and accommodated his treatment.

Although the employee went through rehab, the company suspected that he was working under the influence of drugs on several occasions. The employee was sent back to rehab and drug tested by Harrah’ one month after his treatment. The drug test results were positive and the employee admitted to using marijuana a few weeks before the test. Harrah’s told the employee that because he wasn’t taking rehab seriously, he was fired.

Although the employee sued for disability discrimination, his claims were dismissed because current drug users are not protected under the ADA. While the employee claimed his addiction was a disability, the ADA only protects those with a record or history of drug addiction who are not currently using drugs and have been successfully rehabilitated.

“Current use” covers more than just using drugs on the day you are tested. Courts have ruled that having drugs in your system weeks and months before you were fired qualifies as current use. According to the FEHA, disability does not include “psychoactive substance use disorders resulting from the current unlawful use of controlled substances or other drugs.”

Even though marijuana is legal in the state of California, employers can choose to prohibit marijuana use in the workplace because it is still illegal at the federal level.

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