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Former Lakewood Employee Files Lawsuit Against the City

Self-admitted alcoholic fired after drinking on the job in March 2012.

A former employee with the city of Lakewood has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the city, after he was fired in 2012 for drinking on the job.

LoveLakewood.com reported that Jonathan Blazek was fired in March after he was found to be drinking alcohol during his shift as snow-plow operator.

Shortly afterward, he filed complaints with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and last month, filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking reinstatement, full back pay, and attorney fees.

He alleges he was unlawfully discriminated against based on alcoholism, a legally recognized disability, according to LoveLakewood.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 11.

Hol January 02, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Discriminated because he was fired for drinking on the job? Dying to see how this one plays out. I'm shocked the courts even allowed this. What a waste of my tax dollars.
Helen Boland January 02, 2013 at 03:51 PM
The question arises,"what was this person doing to ameliorate his disability?" If he wanted time off to attend AA meeting, that perhaps might be appropriate. However, I believe the meetings are usually available almost 24/7. Drinking alcohol on the job is not an accomodation.
DragonMama January 02, 2013 at 06:14 PM
I am physically disabled and have experienced ACTUAL discrimination on the job (boss added physical requirements not essential to job function, not in job description, and refused to provide a reasonable no-cost alternative that would have allowed me to perform the job). Being able to LEGALLY and SAFELY opperate a vehicle is part if the ESSENTIAL job description of "snow plow driver". The Americans with Disabilities Act requires REASONABLE accomodations. Allowing an "alcoholic" to drink while opperating a large, heavy vehicle with a plow on the front over tretcherous conditions is so far out of the bounds of "reasonable" as to be obsurd. The ADA does NOT protect the jobs of people who cannot fulfill the essential tasks even with accomodation. The city was under no more obligation to accommodate his alcooholism than they would have been to accommodate him driving a plow if he were legally blind. He is extra stupid for bringing this up & getting his name on the internet as this big of a moron - good luck getting a job with any employer capable of a basic Google search.
Susan Kaminski January 02, 2013 at 07:10 PM
These are the situations where the plaintiff should be paying the legal costs of the defendant (City of Lakewood). Perhaps that would reduce such outrageous lawsuits and save such litigation for those truly disabled and discriminated against. I had to read the filing These are the situations where the plaintiff should be paying the legal costs of the defendant (City of Lakewood). Perhaps that would reduce such outrageous lawsuits and save such litigation for those truly disabled and discriminated against. http://www.lovelakewood.com/pdf/law/12114_blazek.pdf After I read this filing, my blood is boiling. From the filing: "The ADA considers alcoholism to be a disability. Blazek suffers from alcoholism, which is a physical impairment that substantially limits and limited one or more of his major life activities, i.e. working.". WHAT? Because you have alcoholism that gives you free reign to drink on the job? Should pilots who have substance abuse problems be allowed to fly planes under the influence of drugs or alcohol because it's their disability? Shame on the attorney who took this case as well. And his spouse is also claiming loss of consortium. I can't even make the leap on how suing the City will alleviate that issye.
Chris January 02, 2013 at 08:03 PM
I am not an ADA expert here.. but I do not think that there is any reasonable accomodation to allow an individual who is impaired by alcohol to drive a vehicle for employment. I believe the safety of self and others comes into play. I wonder if the question is.. did the city try to provide assistance for the alcoholism prior to firing?
rassie galaty January 02, 2013 at 11:07 PM
So...is it OK for a teacher to drinkon the job??
Susan Kaminski January 14, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Any updates?
Colin McEwen January 15, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Following up, Susan. Thanks!
Harriet Petti January 18, 2013 at 01:17 PM
As a recovering alcoholic, I agree that Jonathon certainly endangered the lives of many as he drove intoxicated. However it was not a choice , having untreated alcoholism means you do not have a choice, the disease demands that we drink, I drank even though I hated it at the end, I did not want to, but could not stop. Given that, if the city had previously tried to help him get treatment, and he refused, this action might be the one that saves his life, if he truly chooses to recover. Often the alcoholic in our jobs and daily lives are enabled , or ignored as a problem till we can not be anymore.As a society I hope , people educate themselves , be part of the solution.
Susan Kaminski January 18, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Harriet, while I admire your recovery, I can't help but take exception to the comment that his drinking ON THE JOB was not a "choice". With all due respect, would you board a plane with an alcoholic pilot who drank before and/or during flying because he/she didn't have a 'choice'? If he couldn't avoid drinking at that moment then perhaps he should've left his job. He and the rest of us are EXTREMELY lucky that no one was injured. The city may not have known he was an alcoholic. Since when is it the employer's responsibility? If I'm an employer and one of my employees has cancer, am I obligated to force that person to seek treatment? The city has excellent medical benefits which includes treatment substance abuse. The city most likely has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) that can confidentially assist employees. If the employee CHOSE not to seek treatment, it's not the employer's fault. Just as someone posted earlier, cases like these make it difficult for those who truly have disabilities and have been truly discriminated against.

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