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A Canadian Woman Who Was Fired for Drinking Wins Case by Arguing She’s an Alcoholic

The woman was told to stay sober by her employer but the Manitoba Human Rights Commission says they didn't have the right to do that.

by Manisha Krishnan
17 September 2015, 5:05am

A woman is getting three years of back pay after being fired for drinking off the job. Photo via Flickr user Dave Newman

Read: This Guy Is Drunk All the Time Because His Body Produces Its Own Alcohol

A Canadian woman who was fired after being drunk both on and off the job has successfully argued that she was discriminated against for being an alcoholic.

Linda Horrocks, a former healthcare aide in Flin Flon, Manitoba, recently won a human rights complaint that claimed she was wrongfully dismissed for imbibing while off the clock—a violation of her terms of employment.

Horrocks, who is now set to receive three years' worth of pay and an additional $10,000 CAD [$7,590 USD] for loss of dignity, was first disciplined in 2011, after a colleague reported her as being drunk on the job. Horrocks's employer, the Northern Regional Health Authority, made her agree to stay sober during and outside of work, and to seek counseling.

She was eventually let go because her bosses believed she'd been intoxicated at a grocery market and while speaking to a manager on the phone, according to evidence presented at the hearing. Horrocks filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission in 2012, claiming her alcoholism is a disability.

"I find that the [health authority] failed to establish that it had accommodated [Horrocks'] special needs associated with her disability," wrote adjudicator Sherri Walsh in her decision released Tuesday.

This isn't the first time a Manitoba employee has come out on top in a discrimination case involving booze. A former staffer for the Canadian Mental Health Association was awarded $6,000 [$4,554 USD] by a human rights adjudicator in 2013 after she was fired for perceived alcoholism.

Horrocks told CBC she hoped to work for her former employer again.

"The people who know me, won't judge. They will still be there for me," she said.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission considers drug and alcohol dependence a disability. The legislation, however, doesn't protect recreational drug and alcohol users, so maybe save the shots until after 5 PM.

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