Yes, you can get fired for this. Anyone could be losing job due to alcoholism. But there’s a catch!
In 2019, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) projected that 14.5 million US people (18 and older) had alcohol use disorder (AUD).
So do all of them loses their jobs? Not really! There are many ups and downs and legal issues in corporate life. This article aims to provide a detailed understanding of the legal and employment aspects surrounding alcohol rehab. Let’s explore!
Legal Protections for Employees Who Seek Alcohol Treatment
If you’re an alcoholic, you may question if going to rehab will get you fired. But it really depends on your job, the severity of your disease, and your employer’s rules.
You’ve multiple protection schemes here:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
If you’re losing job due to alcoholism, ADA is here to save your day! The ADA outlaws disability discrimination in employment and other areas of life.
Although, ADA does not protect them who are illegally using alcohol or drugs or who constitute a direct hazard to themselves or others.
While in alcohol treatment, ADA-covered drug addiction employee rights provides them reasonable accommodation.
Any change or adjustment to the work environment or routine that allows a disabled employee equal job chances is a reasonable accommodation.
Alcohol treatment accommodations could include:
- Modified work schedule or leave of absence to attend rehab or counseling
- Transfer to a less stressful or safety-sensitive role
- Referral to an employee assistance program (EAP) or other support services
You must notify your employer of your accommodation needs and provide medical evidence if necessary.
Another federal law, the FMLA, grants eligible workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave yearly for family and medical reasons. This help employees recovering from alcoholism.
One explanation is a significant illness that prevents the individual from doing their job. If it requires inpatient or ongoing treatment, alcoholism may be a serious health condition under the FMLA.
What FMLA includes:
State legislation may provide further protection or benefits to employees who seek alcohol treatment.
Privacy rights are also crucial when seeking alcohol therapy. As per drug addiction employee rights, HIPAA protects rehab-related health information.
Your employer cannot ask for your medical records or ask about your diagnosis or treatment without your consent.
But there are some exceptions. Exceptions include:
- Your employer may require medical documentation to establish your condition and need for ADA accommodation.
- Your employer may ask your doctor to certify your significant health condition, and FMLA leave needs.
- If you’re drug tested by federal or state law or your employer, you may have to declare prescription drugs that could alter the results.
- Pilots, drivers, and healthcare workers may have to report substance misuse disorders that could compromise their performance.
Be aware of these exceptions and be ready to supply the required information.
Legal safeguards may help you keep your job and get treatment. Read these laws and seek a lawyer if you have questions.
When an Employee Can be Fired for Checking into Alcohol Rehab
Employers should encourage employees who seek alcohol addiction treatment, a brave step toward recovery. Only 45% of people who start treatment for drug addiction are able to finish it. So, if a coworker is trying to get better, give them a hand.
However, alcohol treatment may affect jobs. You should know how you can join rehab without losing your job.
These things you should consider:
Violation of Company Drug and Alcohol Policies
For safety and productivity, many companies have rigorous drug and alcohol policies. Employees who violate these standards by drinking on the job or coming to work drunk may be fired.
Inability to Perform Job Duties
Alcoholism impairs job performance and safety. If the employee’s addiction inhibits productivity, puts them or others at risk, or causes frequent blunders, the company may terminate their employment.
Alcoholism can cause frequent absences, disrupt workflow and burden other team members. Excessive and unexcused absences can lead to termination, even though US workers have FMLA rights.
Significant Disruption to the Work Environment
Disruptive conduct, problems with coworkers, and aggressive encounters caused by addiction can harm the workplace. If an employee interrupts the workplace, the employer may fire them.
Refusing Reasonable Accommodations
Alcohol-addicted workers may be entitled to reasonable accommodations to seek treatment while working. Rehab time or work schedule changes may be allowances. If an employee repeatedly refuses reasonable adjustments and behaves poorly, termination may be an option.
While companies should support and encourage alcohol recovery, employees may be fired if their addiction affects job performance and the workplace.
How to Protect Yourself from Being Fired for Checking into Alcohol Rehab
Have you ever felt the fear of losing your job due to alcoholism? I certainly did.
You may worry about how your workplace would react if you seek professional therapy for alcohol addiction. Generally, the question arises if alcohol rehab can get you fired and what legal protections you have.
The WHO says rehabilitation is critical to universal health coverage and helps individuals live freely and participate in school, work, leisure, and essential life duties.
Here’s what you need to think about:
Be Honest with Your Employer
One of the best ways to avoid getting fired because you went to alcohol rehab is to tell your boss the truth about your situation.
I found that being open with my employer about my addiction was a crucial step in my recovery journey.
If you try to hide your addiction or tell a lie about it, you might lose their trust and respect and hurt your image. And eventually might be losing job due to alcoholism.
Review Company Policy
To avoid getting fired for alcohol rehab, study your company’s substance abuse and employee assistance policies. Some companies offer counseling, referrals, or paid leave to employees with addiction concerns.
Examine these rules and programs to discover if you qualify. Check your company’s drug-free working policy and its penalties. This may help you recovering from alcoholism.
Provide Advance Notice
Give your job and coworkers advance notice of your plans to join rehab without losing your job.
This allows them to prepare for your absence and make necessary adjustments or accommodations.
Notify your employer in writing with the following information:
- Cause for your leave
- Projected duration
- Date of your departure and return
- Contact details of your treatment provider
- Another person who can handle work-related difficulties in your absence
Before leaving, finish or delegate any unfinished work.
Request FMLA Leave
FMLA leave is one of the best strategies to avoid being fired for alcohol rehab. FMLA allows eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for medical or family reasons.
- A serious health condition that prevents them from working
- Caring for a spouse, child, or parent with a severe health condition
- The birth or adoption of a child
- Military service or family emergencies
Do you know not all workers are FMLA-eligible?
You need to have these qualifications:
- You must work for a covered employer, a public agency, a private company with 50 or more employees, or a school.
- You must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave.
- You must work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
If you satisfy these conditions, you can obtain FMLA leave by giving your employer written notice at least 30 days in advance or sooner if the need is unanticipated.
Remember, FMLA leave is unpaid. During leave, you may have to pay for your health insurance. Before taking FMLA leave, examine your finances and budget.
Use Accrued Paid Time Off
Use vacation, sick, or personal days to avoid being fired for alcohol rehab. This will help you pay for therapy while you’re abroad.
However, your employer may still dismiss you for poor performance, misconduct, or layoffs if you use paid time off.
Some employers restrict you from utilizing paid time off before or during FMLA absence, which may diminish your eligibility.
Ask for Accommodations
Asking your employer for reasonable adjustments to accomplish your job duties while in alcohol rehab is another approach to avoid being fired. Accommodations help disabled or ill workers execute their jobs.
What you can ask for:
- Flexible work hours and reduced workload
- Telecommuting and modified tools
- Additional training or supervision
- Transfer to another position or place
According to my experience in this sector, these will make your leave easier as well as will prevent you from losing job due to alcoholism.
Communicate with Supervisors
Communicating with your supervisors and managers while in alcohol rehab is the final step to avoiding termination. This will show your passion and professionalism.
Update them on your recovery and any changes affecting your return date or work performance. When you return, ask them for advice on improving your work quality and productivity.
You should also thank them for their understanding and acknowledge any issues they may have had owing to your absence. Apologize for whatever trouble you created and promise to make it up.
People Also Asked
Can I fire an employee for drinking on the job?
Yes, you can fire an employee for drinking on the job, but there are legal issues.
Alcoholism discrimination is prohibited under the ADA. However, companies can fire drunk workers under the ADA. The FMLA covers alcohol misuse therapy. An employee on FMLA leave for alcohol misuse cannot be fired for absences.
Is it illegal to fire a drug addict?
Yes, this is illegal to fire a drug addict if they’re performing well.
However, employers can terminate employees if drug usage impairs job performance or safety. Exceptions exist. For instance, companies cannot terminate drug users in treatment or have a handicap that makes them more inclined to use drugs.
Usage of anything can lead you to uncertain life, such as drinking alcohol at work. Be careful, and always maintain good connections with co-workers. Those people will help you overcome and take your workloads while you’re getting treatments. Know how much rehab costs.