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Decision in Police Chief's Disability Discrimination Action Based on His Alcoholism

By FindLaw Staff on March 04, 2010 11:19 AM

In Budde v. Kane County Forest Pres., No. 09-2040, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's grant of summary judgment against a police chief claiming employment discrimination based on his alcoholism disability, after he was fired for causing an accident while driving drunk.

Under 29 C.F.R. section 1630.2(m), in order for the plaintiff to prevail on his discrimination claim, he must first establish that he is a "qualified individual with a disability" by showing that he is someone who, "satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the employment position," and "can perform the essential functions of the position held, with or without reasonable accommodation."

In affirming the grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the court held that plaintiff's claim must fail because he was fired as a result of his miconduct since he cannot perform the essential functions of his position as a police chief due to his suspended driver's license and thus, cannot operate a motor vehicle as his job requires.  Plaintiff's other claims of failure to accommodate and retaliation  for seeking accommodation for his alcoholism are without merit.

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