Given how Steve Sarkisian‘s dismissal from USC went down, you just had a feeling that a headline of this nature was coming at some point in the near future.
After being given an an indefinite leave of absence Oct. 11, Sarkisian was fired a day later as the Trojans’ head football coach. Sarkisian, who reportedly had a troubling past involving alcohol, checked himself into rehab shortly thereafter, and reportedly learned of his fate with the Trojans via text messages and emails on his way to a treatment center.
Now, TMZ.com reports, Sarkisian is suing USC because, the suit claims, the university broke federal law by firing a person with a disability. In Sarkisian’s case, that disability would be alcoholism.
The suit will seek damages in excess of $30 million.
We’re told one of the main allegations is that Sarkisian believes USC broke the law by firing someone with disabilities.
We spoke with Sark’s attorney who tells us, “Alcoholism is a recognized disability under California law. So firing somebody because of that disability is against the law.”
The attorney tells us Sark also feels USC left him high and dry when he needed them the most.
USC has declined comment on the development.
While the Americans with Disabilities Act concedes that “[i]ndividuals who abuse alcohol may be considered disabled under the ADA if the person is an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic,” it also provides that “employers may require that employees not be under the influence of alcohol in the workplace.” Sarkisian reportedly showed up for a Sunday practice “not healthy,” according to USC athletic director Pat Haden, and was placed on leave. Reports had previously surfaced that Sarkisian had shown up for a booster event over the summer inebriated.
There were also reports of Sarkisian smelling of alcohol at his previous job as the head coach at Washington.
Also from the ADA website:
Q. Are alcoholics covered by the ADA?
A. Yes. While a current illegal user of drugs is not protected by the ADA if an employer acts on the basis of such use, a person who currently uses alcohol is not automatically denied protection. An alcoholic is a person with a disability and is protected by the ADA if s/he is qualified to perform the essential functions of the job. An employer may be required to provide an accommodation to an alcoholic. However, an employer can discipline, discharge or deny employment to an alcoholic whose use of alcohol adversely affects job performance or conduct. An employer also may prohibit the use of alcohol in the workplace and can require that employees not be under the influence of alcohol.
Here’s some additional information on the suit that’s been filed by Sarkisian’s lawyers: