Addiction Recovery - Treatment Professional

Can My Employer Fire Me While I'm in Drug Rehab?

Can your boss fire you for attending drug rehab? Our blog explains this often fraught process and what rights you have in this situation.

Can My Employer Fire Me While I'm in Drug Rehab?

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

July 14, 2022

The Edge Treatment Center

According to The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 40.3 million Americans struggled with substance use disorder (SUD) in 2020.

This number did decrease in 2021: That year, only 22 million people struggled with some form of SUD.

Still, this is a public health crisis, and you are not alone in fighting it. 

Saying yes and going to drug rehab, is a life-altering decision not only for you but also for your friends and family. One of the biggest hurdles can be wondering what your options are when you are currently employed and need to keep your job but also want to attend a treatment program.

You may fear potentially being fired from your current place of employment. Luckily, there are ways to make sure this doesn't happen. There are a few laws in place that protect you so that you can work on creating a better healthier life for yourself without worrying about your employment status. 

Family and Medical Leave Act 

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed and signed in 1993 by President Clinton. This act was an outstanding accomplishment for women and families all around the United States, as well as those with serious medical conditions. This act helps protect you from being fired while attending drug rehab. Under the FMLA, you are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work for medical reasons, such as attending addiction treatment. 

According to the Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, SUD is considered a mental health disorder, which qualifies addiction treatment for protection under this act. Treatment or rehab counts as a medical reason to receive the allotted 12 weeks of unpaid time off from work. 

Who Is Eligible for the Family and Medical Leave Act? 

To qualify for FMLA, there are a few expectations you must meet.

To qualify: 

  • You must have been employed by the same company for at least a year

  • You must have worked at least 1,250 hours over the course of that year

  • The company you are currently employed with must also employ 50 or more individuals within 75 miles

If you and your employer meet these qualifications, you are eligible to receive protection under the FMLA act.

Americans with Disabilities Act  

Another form of protection available to those seeking addiction treatment is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act protects employees with disabilities against discrimination.

The history of the ADA is a bit different than FMLA; this act started in small towns and cities with activists fighting for the rights of individuals with disabilities. The model for this act was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination against an individual based on their race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.

This act is more restrictive when it comes to drug or alcohol addiction. For example, you are only protected under the ADA if you are not currently using illicit drugs.

Illicit drugs are any illegal substance or any misuse of prescription drugs. 

Someone in recovery or who has successfully completed rehab and has a past addiction is protected by the ADA. This applies most specifically in cases where: 

  • A company will not hire or promote an individual because they received treatment in the past for SUD

  • A company fires someone who is currently receiving treatment or has in the past

  • A company refuses to hire, promote, or threatens to fire someone with a history of drug addiction or SUD

Returning to Work After Treatment 

After successfully receiving treatment, going back to work can feel daunting for several reasons. You might feel nervous, anxious, or judged, especially around co-workers. A way that you can avoid or reduce these feelings is to prepare what to say to co-workers about your absence in advance, so you feel more prepared and less anxious. 

Your employer may ask you to complete a return-to-work agreement. This is confidential between you and your employer and simply acts as a way to set clear expectations on both sides. Some things this agreement may include are your current position and whether you are expected to take up the same tasks as you were assigned before going to treatment. 

Other Options That May Work for You at The Edge Treatment Center

If leaving work for a period of unpaid time is not an option for you, there are other ways to receive treatment and work around your schedule. 

At The Edge Treatment Center, we offer a flexible outpatient program that fits into your daily responsibilities. You have the opportunity to choose different treatment times between the hours of 10 A.M. and 9 P.M. This way, you can complete your workday and then receive after-work treatment.

Taking steps to receive treatment and create a healthier lifestyle can be isolating and scary. The good news is you are not alone in the process. The Edge Treatment Center is here to guide you any way we can, whether that be answering questions, starting outpatient treatment, or connecting you with alumni. We prioritize connection during treatment and make sure you have the opportunity for fun along the way.

For more information, contact The Edge Treatment Center today.

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