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Know your Rights about Seeking Treatment while Employed

Know your Rights about Seeking Treatment while Employed

Many workers of all skill levels are often suffering in silence as they deal with substance use disorder while maintaining their jobs and careers. Due to the stigma that addiction carries, many of those people are already reluctant to speak about their medical needs to their loved ones, let alone their bosses or managers. A large percentage of laborers are afraid of losing their jobs if they request time off or a change in hours to enroll in substance use disorder treatment, but there are specific laws in place that can help them. No one should be discriminated against for their chronic illness, especially addiction, as they are working on getting help.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

The FMLA gives employees of covered employers the ability to take unpaid, job-protected time off for specific family and medical reasons while still receiving their usual insurance coverage through the employer. This mandate applies to employees who have worked for their employer for at least a year and 1250 hours over that period. The employer must employ 50 workers or more and be within 75 miles of the employee for the act to apply.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA has made it unlawful to discriminate in employment against any qualified individual with a disability. This act also applies to people who suffer from addiction, in which the ADA prevents them from being demoted or fired for their disability, provided that they don’t break company and ADA rules regarding misuse of substances within the employment facility or on the job, outside of prescribed medications that may also be categorized as controlled substances.

Working While in Treatment

There are many questions that surround the idea of balancing outpatient opioid use disorder treatment and working a full-time or part-time job. Do employers test for Suboxone®? Can that prevent people from holding onto their employment? The ADA protects patients who are currently receiving MAT or medication-assisted treatment, but not those who are actively using or have relapsed without returning to treatment. Testing positive for Suboxone® during a drug test would be protected under the ADA since it’s part of an employee’s treatment process while testing positive for illicit or non-prescribed opioids would not.

Many people fear for their jobs when deciding to take the vital step to address their substance use disorder. While there are specific criteria that individual employers and employees need to fulfill to be protected legally in the United States, outpatient treatment has enabled people to balance their recovery goals while maintaining their jobs.

People who suspect they’re being discriminated against and are being threatened with job loss or have lost their jobs because they have spoken to their supervisors about seeking treatment for their substance use disorder are urged to report the instance to the ADA council to receive the support they need to make it through treatment successfully without fear of losing their livelihood and benefits.

Getting addiction treatment isn’t just about saving a job — it’s about taking back control of your life. Call us or fill out the form on our website to learn more about our individualized treatment plans!


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