Federal judge tosses binge drinker's suit against Turnpike

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The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission didn't violate a former toll booth shift leader's rights when it fired him after he repeatedly failed to stop binge drinking, a federal judge found today.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon granted the Turnpike's motion for summary judgment, ending the case of Mark Schmidt, of Butler County. From 1999 through 2009, Mr. Schmidt was repeatedly granted leave to go into alcohol rehabilitation programs, Judge Bissoon wrote.

His lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act hinged on whether he clearly told his employer that he needed another period of leave to complete the last of the rehabilitation stints. Judge Bissoon found that the Turnpike acted reasonably when it concluded that he was absent without leave, and fired him.

She noted in her decision "the untenable position presented by an employee who remains dependent on alcohol or drugs after repeated, unsuccessful rehabilitation attempts. Although providing an employee with an opportunity to rehabilitate himself is consonant with both the law and the greater public good, there comes a point where demanding an employer to offer multiple, if not unlimited, opportunities for recovery veers outside the realm of reasonableness." breaking - Transportation

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.


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