Alcoholism Still “Current” After 1 Week

By Bryan Stillwagon

A commercial truck driver’s week-old release from alcoholism treatment meant he had a “current” diagnosis of alcoholism. Jarvela v. Crete Carrier Corp., No. 13-11601 (11th Cir. Jan. 28, 2015). The employer required its drivers to pass DOT standards, including that they have “no current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism.” This driver took FMLA for alcoholism treatment, but when he returned to work, the employer found he had a current diagnosis and fired him. He sued under the ADA and FMLA. The Court agreed he could not meet the job qualifications. The driver’s rehab discharge was dated only one week earlier and it noted the driver suffered from chronic alcohol dependence. Witnesses involved in his treatment testified that “chronic” means “forever” and “an alcoholic is an alcoholic for life.” The court refused to decide how much time must pass before a diagnosis of alcoholism is no longer “current,” but a seven-day-old diagnosis is clearly current.