Discrimination and Reasonable Accommodation
Employees who are entering treatment or are in recovery, or who have family members in treatment, may be entitled to reasonable accommodations in the workplace. Accommodations may include the use of paid or unpaid leave, flexible scheduling, or modification of workplace duties. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide equal opportunities and accommodations for employees with disabilities. When applied to substance use, current illegal drug users are not protected. However, individuals who have successfully completed a treatment program and are in recovery do qualify. Employees who are legally using prescribed or over-the-counter drugs as part of a disability may also be protected. Employers may be required to accommodate protected employees’ job restrictions so that they can work safely and effectively. Furthermore, employers cannot fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote protected employees because of a disability.
In some cases, employees may need to take extended leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) permits these employees to go on unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks per year. Under the FMLA, treatment for substance use qualifies as a serious health condition, thus employees who are eligible must be granted a leave of absence.