In Skidmore v. Virtua Health Inc., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86181 (D.N.J. June 21, 2012), a nurse with attendance issues related to her alcoholism and anxiety was terminated by her employer after she failed to report to work on a day when the center was short-staffed, following a trend of poor attendance. At the termination meeting, her employer cited her attendance, but repeatedly mentioned her alcohol problems and told her that she would not be terminated if she enrolled in an alcohol rehabilitation program. For those reasons, the court held that a jury could have concluded that she was terminated for her alcoholism, rather than her attendance. Further, the court held that although the law permits an employer to terminate an alcoholic if the alcoholism reasonably precludes the performance of her job that too was a question for the jury to decide.
Note: This article was published in the July 2012 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.