Magazine article The Alcoholism Report

House Rejects Effort to Dilute Rights of Recovered Alcoholics and Addicts

Magazine article The Alcoholism Report

House Rejects Effort to Dilute Rights of Recovered Alcoholics and Addicts

Article excerpt

House Rejects Effort to Dilute Rights Of Recovered Alcoholics and Addicts

The House passed sweeping legislation to protect the disabled from discrimination in the private sector after rejecting a proposal to allow employers to take into account the time an alcoholic or drug addict has been recovered in connection with safety-sensitive jobs. House action on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (HR-2273) sends the bill to a joint conference committee for reconciliation with the Senate version (S-933) passed last year with provisions hotly opposed by field groups.

A coalition of alcohol, drug, mental health and public health organizations were rallying support for the House bill as it relates to its coverage for persons with alcoholism and drug dependence. Most of the objectionable provisions in the Senate bill were purged or modified in House committee action before the measure reached the House floor.

Just before passage, the House voted down overwhelmingly a motion to recommit the bill and add an amendment by Rep. Rod Chandler (R-WA) perceived as discriminating against recovered alcoholics and addicts. It would have allowed employers to consider the history of drug addiction or alcoholism and whether treatment has been successfully completed when assigning or continuing an individual in a "safety sensitive" job. (See separate story.)

Ellen M. Weber, Legislative Counsel for the Legal Action Center, in a letter to lawmakers, called for passage of the House version of the ADA bill, arguing that it "sets forth the provisions related to alcoholic and drug dependent persons in a more clear, consistent manner" than the Senate bill. Among other objectionable provisions, the Senate bill contains an amendment by Sen. William Armstrong (R-CO) which would exclude from the ADA's protection against discrimination a series of disorders listed in the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-III. …

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