For many of us, a time comes when we realize that our behavior is not healthy and we need to seek professional help to overcome destructive patterns through a rehabilitation program. Of course, when most people realize they have a problem (or are informed by concerned family and friends), it is never a convenient time, especially if the person in question holds a job. The individual considering rehab may worry that if he or she goes to rehab, he or she is forfeiting their job. If a person chooses to seek treatment in rehab, is an employer forced to hold a position open for them?
This is a tricky issue that may play out a number of ways. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, those who struggle with alcohol or drug abuse are considered disabled and may expect “reasonable accommodation” when they choose to pursue rehab. However, an employer is not obligated specifically to hold a job for such a person. While the employer does have to make reasonable accommodations, that may not include holding a job indefinitely.
For instance, an employer may allow an employee to use sick days to attend rehab, and may authorize additional unpaid leave when these paid days are used up. The law allows employers some room to be creative with what constitutes “reasonable accommodations,” and also allows the employer to place a time limit on how long a position is held open for a recovering employee.
If you have concerns about protecting your rights as an employee while seeking a healthier lifestyle, by all means, consult with an experienced attorney who understands how to protect employee rights. Just as someone who breaks an arm should expect reasonable accommodations while recovering, those who tackle addiction should also receive reasonable accommodations. An experienced attorney can help you keep your rights secure as you move towards a healthier way of life.
Source: Findlaw, “If I’m in Rehab, Must an Employer Hold My Job?,” accessed Sep. 29, 2017