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Are Employees with Past Drug Addiction Protected?

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees and job applicants from discrimination based on past drug addiction.

As the opioid addiction rate continues to escalate the question of whether an addiction could hamper employment arises.

In an article on the Society of Human Resource Management website, written by Roy Maurer, he talks about the rights of employees. He points out that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees and job applicants from discrimination based on past drug addiction.

These individuals qualify as having a disability if they successfully completed a supervised drug rehabilitation program or are currently participating in such a program and are no longer using prohibited drugs.

Maurer discusses a case filed by the EEOC in Texas accusing a company of discriminating against a newly hired worker by firing him because he was on a supervised methadone withdrawal treatment program for a past dependency on opioid medication.

"Employers may want to think carefully about their treatment of applicants and employees who are using drugs for their past drug addictions," said Keith Watts, an attorney in the Orange County, Calif., office of Ogletree Deakins. said.

 "Employers may amend their written drug-use policies to include clear exclusions for individuals who are using legally obtained prescription medications in a lawful manner, and train managers who evaluate candidates and employees on such matters.

"When reviewing applicants or employees, employers may conduct individualized assessments to determine whether the applicant or employee's lawful use of a prescription medication poses a direct threat to the individual or others, and whether the individual can safely perform the essential functions of his or her position with or without reasonable accommodation."

View full article here.

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