Police Chief Fired for DUI, Not Alcoholism Bias | Courthouse News Service
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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Tuesday, November 28, 2023 | Back issues
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Police Chief Fired for DUI, Not Alcoholism Bias

(CN) - An Illinois police chief who was fired for driving drunk and causing a crash wasn't a victim of disability discrimination based on his alcoholism, the 7th Circuit ruled.

A three-judge panel tossed Charles H. Budde's discrimination and retaliation claims against the Kane County Forest Preserve District, which fired him after he sent two people to the hospital in a drunk-driving accident. Budde rear-ended their car after drinking four or five glasses of wine at the Moose Lodge. His blood-alcohol level was .23, nearly three times the legal limit.

Budde claimed his firing was a result of discrimination based on his disability: alcoholism. He said the district failed to accommodate his disability and fired him in retaliation for requesting a reasonable accommodation.

A federal judge found that Budde had been fired "because he clearly violated established work rules," even assuming his alcoholism was a disability.

Agreeing, the Chicago-based appeals court rejected Budde's appeal.

"[I]n choosing to drive while intoxicated and causing a crash that sent two people to the hospital, he failed to comply with the workplace rules, and Budde was no longer qualified to perform his job as police chief," Judge William Bauer wrote.

Bauer pointed out that Budde's driver's license had been suspended, and driving was an essential part of his job.

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