By addressing substance use and impairment in the workplace, an employer can positively impact their employees’ lives while also protecting their business. As with many workplace interventions, there are also legal considerations. Employers should familiarize themselves with relevant laws, consult their labor & employment attorney, and if relevant, their labor relations team. The backbone of legally protecting any employer or employee are well-developed, compliant drug and alcohol and return-to-work policies. Careful and informed development of these policies in partnership with an employment attorney can help ensure policies comply with lawful guidelines and is fitting for the workplace. For a basic foundation for compliance, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides 10 Steps for Avoiding Legal Problems.
Substance use disorders (SUDs) are chronic health conditions. Similar to other chronic health conditions such as epilepsy, cancer, or diabetes, SUD fluctuates between exacerbation and remission. In the workplace, they should be treated in a similar fashion. Employers should keep in mind that symptoms of SUD can often mimic other health conditions.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA)
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- National Labor Relations Act of 1935