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Home / Opinion / 09-4151 Ames v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.

09-4151 Ames v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.


Where an employee was terminated for being intoxicated at work, the termination did not violate the ADA or FMLA.

“Taking the record in the light most favorable to Ames, her ADA claims cannot survive summary judgment. For either a discrimination claim or a failure-to-accommodate claim, Ames must show that she has a disability under the ADA. Lloyd v. Swifty Transp., Inc., 552 F.3d 594, 601 (7th Cir. 2009); Mobley v. Allstate Ins. Co., 531 F.3d 539, 545 (7th Cir. 2008). Alcoholism may qualify as a disability if it ‘substantially limits one or more major life activities.’ 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1). A substantial limitation is a limitation that renders an individual unable to perform a major life activity or that significantly restricts an individual in performing a major life activity. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(j) (2010). Major life activities can include caring for oneself, sleeping, walking, and working. 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2). Ames cannot show that her alcoholism is an ADA disability because there is no evidence in the record that it substantially limited her major life activities. Ames presented no evidence that her alcohol problem substantially limited her activities at home. And again we refer to her testimony where she insisted that her alcohol problem did not affect her work performance. Additionally, her discrimination and failure-to-accommodate claims fail because the record establishes that Home Depot fired Ames because she came to work under the influence of alcohol. This was a failure to meet Home Depot’s legitimate expectations for its employees, as Home Depot need not accommodate an alcoholic by overlooking such violations of workplace rules. See 42 U.S.C. § 12114(c)(4) (providing that an employer ‘may hold an employee . . . who is an alcoholic to the same qualification standards for employment or job performance and behavior that such [employer] holds other employees, even if any unsatisfactory performance or behavior is related to the . . . alcoholism of such employee’). And there is no evidence that Home Depot failed to accommodate Ames’s requests to schedule her work around AA meetings; in fact, the evidence shows that Home Depot gave Ames time off with pay and assistance through its Employee Assistance Program.”


09-4151 Ames v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Coar, J., Manion, J.

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