Protections For Employees Struggling With Addiction
Many different federal and state laws protect individuals from discrimination in the workplace based on a variety of factors. Specifically, the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Florida Civil Rights Act prohibit employment discrimination against anyone based on an actual or assumed physical or mental disability. This means that if a person can perform the essential duties of their job, they cannot be terminated, demoted, disciplined, or passed over for hire because of their disability. In addition, an employer must make reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities including providing technological assistance, having accessible facilities, and more.
Addiction to drugs or alcohol is considered to be a disease and is one that can significantly affect a person’s professional life. The question often arises whether or not drug or alcohol addiction is considered to a disability and whether employees struggling with addiction are protected from adverse employment action under the law due to their illness. The answer can be complicated and can depend on many different factors. The first question to ask is whether the addiction involves alcohol, drugs, or both.
Addiction to alcohol — Alcoholism is considered to be a disability under the law and a diagnosed alcoholic may qualify for accommodation under some circumstances. First, the alcoholism must not prevent them from performing their adequately performing their job functions. An employer is allowed to hold an employee up to the standard required for their particular job and if an employee fails to meet those standards due to their addiction, they may be disciplined or terminated. Additionally, the employer has the right to prohibit employees from being intoxicated at work or using alcohol at work.
Addiction to illegal drugs — Unlike alcohol, it is unlawful to use illegal drugs and, therefore, such drug use is not protected under the law. If a drug test reveals use of illegal substances, the ADA will not protect them from adverse employment action. However, if an employee who was addicted to drugs stops using and seeks help for their addiction, they can be protected from discrimination. Employees currently in treatment or who have emerged from treatment and are clean may not be discriminated against because of their past drug use. Similar to alcoholics, past drug addicts may also be held to the standards that apply to their jobs and may be prohibited from being under the influence at work or using any substances at work.
Find Out How A Plantation, FL Employment Attorney Can Help
There are many different legal protections for employees in many different situations. If you are unsure whether your employer is violating your rights, you should always check with an attorney who is thoroughly familiar with Florida employment laws to help you determine whether you have a legal claim. Robert S. Norell is a skilled employment lawyer who has been helping employees throughout the state stand up for their rights. If you believe you have been the victim of wage, hour, or discrimination violations, please call us as soon as possible at 305-405-9243.