In a society where mental health and addiction issues are becoming increasingly prevalent, employees must understand their rights in the workplace. First and foremost, it is crucial to understand the legal landscape surrounding addiction and rehabilitation in employment. Two essential federal laws provide specific protections for workers grappling with substance use disorders: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, including people recovering from substance use disorders. Importantly, this act only protects employees who are not currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs but are either in recovery or wrongly perceived as having a substance use disorder. If an employer fires an employee because they sought rehabilitation treatment and are no longer engaging in the illegal use of drugs, they may violate the ADA.
On the other hand, FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for specific family and medical reasons. One such reason is a severe health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their job, which can include conditions related to substance abuse. Therefore, if an employee meets the eligibility requirements for FMLA leave, they may be able to take time off for rehab without fear of losing their job.
Navigating the Conversation With Your Employer
Discussing a personal matter like rehabilitation with your employer can be daunting. However, it is beneficial to maintain open, honest communication to ensure mutual understanding and avoid potential legal complications. While the specifics of the conversation will depend on your relationship with your employer, it is generally advisable to explain your need for time off, reassure your commitment to your job, and express your intent to return to work after completing the program.
Will I Get Paid While in Rehab?
As mentioned earlier, FMLA leave is unpaid. However, some employers offer paid leave policies, or you may be able to use accrued vacation, personal, or sick leave to continue receiving income while in rehab. The specifics will depend on your employer’s policies, so reviewing these carefully or discussing them with your human resources representative is crucial.
A South Jersey Employment Lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Can Explain and Protects Your Rights
Going to rehab is hard, and going without pay during that time can be frightening. However, rest assured that you have some legal protections on your side. For more information, speak with a South Jersey employment lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. today. Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, and Montgomery County.