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Monday, March 10, 2008

Societal disabilities

Both federal and state laws define a person with a disability as an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (such as such as self-care, employment or thinking) or has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, considered alcoholism as disability and consequently provides guidelines for its protection most particularly in the workplaces.

To be considered as disabled under the act, an alcoholic must be able or qualified to perform the essential functions of a job or activity.

The alcoholic must be able to perform the major life activities in life such as communication and self-care, though relatively limited. The inability to perform these activities would not constitute a disability.

In reference to employment, an alcoholic cannot be discriminated against in reference to hiring, discipline or firing just because of their condition. It also includes prohibition of discrimination in the terms, conditions or privileges of employment.

Denying an individual into an employment merely based on the fact that the person is an alcoholic is against the law.

The same amount of legal protection was extended to alcoholics under the Social Security Act with some qualifications.

From these varied protections that the federal and state laws have extended to an alcoholic leads only to divisions and inequalities. It created a public issues and total chaos.

There is a clamor for its removal from the realms of disability protection. Those who have suffered other forms of disabilities such as drug addiction, compulsive gamblers, kleptomania and those similarly situated have made an outcry and aired unequal protection of the laws.

To my mind, alcoholism is a societal disease. Alcoholics should not be given much better treatment like any other disease of society.

If only to give value to human dignity, all of the diseases similarly situated should be given a fair treatment under the law.

Having alcoholism included in the coverage of disability and the protection it reap from our laws is just a waste of time and effort. It only creates confusion and more complex situations.

The import of the situations only leads to societal disabilities.