ADA and FMLA Compliance Challenges With Employee Substance Abuse

Minimizing EEOC and DOL Enforcement Actions and Worker Lawsuits On Accommodation and Leave

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will provide guidance to employment counsel for complying with the ADA and FMLA in managing disability accommodation and family leave requests. The panel will address how to minimize EEOC and DOL enforcement actions and employee lawsuits when dealing with employees with substance abuse problems.


Managing workers with substance abuse problems is daunting for most employers. Employers must balance their obligation to ensure workplace safety, regular attendance and satisfactory job performance against potential lawsuits or government actions alleging violations of the ADA or FMLA.

Employees with substance abuse issues may be entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA. The accommodation that must be offered is not always clear. Further, addiction that rises to the level of a serious health condition may entitle employees to FMLA leave.

To avoid legal missteps when managing employees with substance abuse problems, employment counsel must develop effective approaches for complying with the law while managing discipline issues and responding to reasonable accommodation and leave requests.

Listen as our panel of employment counsel examines how the ADA, FMLA and case law address employee alcohol and drug abuse. The panel will explain best practices for complying with the ADA and FMLA when managing disability accommodation and family leave requests, and avoiding EEOC and DOL enforcement actions and employee lawsuits.



  1. Legal treatment of employee substance abuse
    1. ADA (and ADA Amendments Act of 2008)
    2. FMLA
    3. Recent case law
  2. Best practices to comply with ADA and FMLA
    1. Responding to requests for FMLA leave
    2. Responding to requests for reasonable accommodation
    3. Dealing with discipline issues arising from substance abuse
  3. Defending enforcement actions and lawsuits
    1. Factors EEOC considers when weighing whether to bring charges
    2. Documenting reasonable accommodation efforts


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • How should an employer respond to an employee's request for medical leave to deal with alcohol or drug abuse issues?
  • What measures should an employer take to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee claiming a substance abuse problem?
  • How has the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 altered the landscape for employers defending claims alleging disability discrimination related to drug or alcohol addiction?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Joyce Walker-Jones
Joyce Walker-Jones
Senior Atty Advisor, ADA Policy Division
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

She drafts Commission guidance, conducts training, and provides technical assistance to the federal government,...  |  Read More

Katherine C. Huibonhoa
Katherine C. Huibonhoa

Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker

She represents and counsels employers in all aspects of employment law issues, with a particular emphasis on appeals,...  |  Read More

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