From: (Justice For All Moderator)

 "Supreme Court Rules on ADA Employment Case"

From the Associated Press:

Court Rules on Workplace Rights Issue
The Associated Press
Tuesday, December 2, 2003; 11:15 AM

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court gave companies some leeway
Tuesday to refuse to rehire recovering drug addicts and
alcoholics, but without the broad ruling that employers

Justices ruled 7-0 that Hughes Missile Systems has a
legitimate reason to refuse to rehire workers who break
rules, including former employees with addictions.

But the court dodged the more significant question, whether
the more than 5 million workers with substance abuse
problems have workplace protection under the landmark
Americans With Disabilities Act.

The court ordered the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to
reconsider the case of an Arizona missile plant worker who
lost his job after testing positive for drugs.

Joel Hernandez, a 25-year employee, quit in 1991 after a
test showed he had used cocaine. More than two years later,
after completing drug and alcohol treatment, he was turned
down when he tried to get rehired.

The appeals court ruled that a jury should decide if
Hernandez was a discrimination victim under the 1990
disabilities law. The law specifically protects people who
are clean after being treated for their addiction, but
allows companies to discipline those who use substances on
the job.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in the Supreme Court ruling, said
that the appeals court used the wrong analysis in reviewing
the Hernandez case.

Hughes gave a "legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for
refusing to rehire (Hernandez)," Thomas said.

The company had an unwritten policy against rehiring
workers who broke rules - such as not using drugs - and
argued that thousands of other employers have the same

The Bush administration had sided with Hughes, now owned by
Raytheon Co.

Groups such as the Betty Ford Center and National Council
on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence supported Hernandez,
arguing that most families have experience with addiction
and that millions of people have overcome it.

Two justices did not participate in the case - Stephen
Breyer and David H. Souter.

The case is Raytheon Co. v. Hernandez, 02-749.


On the Net:
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) 2003 The Associated Press

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