Alcoholism-Related ADA Disability Discrimination Claim Dismissed

In Santiago v. 1199 SEIU et al, 2020 WL 4350048 (E.D.N.Y. July 29, 2020), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiff’s disability discrimination claim asserted under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Plaintiff asserted – albeit, according to the court, non-specifically – that he was subjected to discrimination because of his alchoholism.

From the decision:

Although the plaintiff’s termination qualifies as an adverse employment action, he has not plausibly alleged that he was terminated because of his disability. A plaintiff may “demonstrate circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination through evidence of overt discriminatory conduct or disparate treatment. … The plaintiff mentions his alcoholism in some of his allegations. For example, he alleges that he was terminated on the day he “entered into rehab,” which he describes as a “moment of opportunity.” … In the termination letter, which the plaintiff attached to the complaint, [Human Resources representative] Morales cited the plaintiff’s failure to show up for work or to call as the reason for his termination; the plaintiff alleges that “[w]hen other employees that did not suffer from alcohol depen[den]cy would miss work without prior notice … they were marked as taking a holiday, or a sick day.” … These allegations suggest that the defendants treated people with alcohol dependency differently from employees without a similar disability, but the allegations are not sufficiently specific. …

Even if the plaintiff had sufficiently alleged that he was subjected to disparate treatment, he was not terminated because of his alcoholism, by his own account. The plaintiff claims that he was really terminated because he reported … misconduct[.] … Moreover, the plaintiff claims that [Human Resources representative] decided to fire him before the “no-show” dates referenced in the termination letter. Accordingly, the discrimination claims are dismissed. [Citations omitted.]


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