Living with addiction is challenging, especially when it comes to finding and keeping a job. Substance use can make it difficult to perform work-related tasks, and treatment can require you to take time off work.
If you have an addiction, you should understand the legal protections you have as an employee.
Does addiction to drugs or alcohol qualify as a disability?
Addiction is a medical condition. If you have an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it qualifies as a disability under anti-discrimination laws. However, casual use of drugs or alcohol is not a disability.
Does the law protect me from discrimination if I have an addiction?
Generally, anti-discrimination laws protect you if you are in an addiction recovery program or have completed a recovery program. The law does not protect you from disability discrimination if you currently use illegal drugs.
Can a potential employer ask about drug or alcohol use?
In a job interview, a potential employer may ask whether you drink or use illegal drugs. Employers generally can not ask if you have a drug or alcohol addiction or have undergone treatment for addiction.
What accommodations must my employer provide?
Typically, an employer must allow you to take time off work to receive treatment for your addiction. This includes meetings and counseling sessions.
Can I lose my job for drinking or using drugs?
The law generally does not protect you from the consequences of workplace misconduct. If you violate company policy while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your employer generally may take disciplinary action, including termination. Your employer also has the right to fire you for using illegal drugs.
Although the law protects employees from discrimination based on substance addiction, it also leaves room for employers to enforce workplace policies and safety measures.