The Labor Department directed employers with Federal contracts today to take “affirmative action” to hire alcoholics and drug abusers, provided they are able to perform their work.
Donald Elisburg, Assistant Secretary of Labor, issued a statement to “remind” employers that alcoholics and drug abusers were covered by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which protects handicapped people against job discrimination.
“Employers who fail to consider qualified alcoholics and drug abusers from employment because of their handicap are clearly violating the law,” he said.
A spokesman said employers were expected to find and hire drug abusers and alcoholics, “just as they are expected to hire blacks, Hispanics and other minorities.” The spokesman said that about 250,000 companies were covered by the law, all but the very smallest of the Government contractors. He added that they must take positive steps to find and promote alcoholics and drug abusers to be in compliance with the law.
Excerpt from Philip Sharecoff New York Times