Can I Get Fired for Going to Drug Rehab?

When you realize that you want to recover from a drug or alcohol problem, everything can seem overwhelming. A rehab facility is a stable place where you can learn coping mechanisms and treat your drug addiction. But you want to have a stable life waiting when you get back, too. That’s why many worried people ask:

Can I get fired for going to drug rehab? If you go to inpatient rehab, you will need to take some time off work. The exact amount of time will vary depending on the length of your program. There are certain laws in place that can help you make sure that your job is still there when you get back. Another thing to keep in mind is that addiction often spirals out of control. If you don’t get the help you need, it’s possible that your drug or alcohol use will lead to the loss of your job regardless.

The ADA and FMLA Legislation Protect You from Rehab-Related Firing

One of the key pieces of legislation that can protect you is the Family Medical Leave Act. Should you need to take unpaid leave because you or a family member has an illness, you can receive up to 12 weeks off without being fired. You won’t be able to get paid leave, however. Another part of that legislation states that you will still have access to your employer-provided health insurance during the leave.

Substance use disorders qualify as medical conditions, so treatment and rehab count as medical leave. FMLA is relevant to every business with at least 50 workers, every school employee, and every public agency. The only corporate entities that aren’t included are businesses with few employees. As long as an employee is eligible for leave, their employer must grant them this.

How to Qualify for FMLA

You must meet certain qualifications to take leave under FMLA legislation. If you meet the following criteria, you can request leave:

  • You have been employed by your current company for at least a year
  • You have logged at least 1,250 work hours in the past year of work
  • Your company has at least 50 workers that work in a 75 mile radius of your workplace

People who meet the criteria can request a leave of absence under FMLA. Prior to your rehab stay, you should ask your boss for a leave request. It is vital that you request the form and fill it out in a timely manner. You have to follow the rules and regulations for requesting FMLA leave, or your employer will be able to fire you. You cannot enter rehab and tell your employer about it afterward.

How the ADA Applies to Rehab

The ADA, more broadly called the Americans with Disabilities Act, is federal legislation that protects people with disabilities. It allows for workplace accommodations, commercial accommodations, and fair housing. There are certain stipulations that can protect you when you go to rehab. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the legislation does not qualify current drug users as disabled individuals. The ADA does not protect you against being fired if you drink alcohol or use drugs on the clock.

It also doesn’t protect you from firing when your substance use leads to unsafe scenarios or impacts your productivity. But if you decide to enter a treatment facility, then the ADA does offer some measure of protection. If you have a chemical dependency on a drug that is being treated, then that qualifies as a disability. You must be making a proactive effort to treat your chemical dependency. You might choose not to disclose that you are going to rehab.

But even if your employer does find out, they can’t fire you for using a treatment program. According to the ADA, the time that a person is fired makes a big difference. If a person is a current user of alcohol and drugs when they’re fired, then the employer is in the right. But if a person is a recovering drug user or alcoholic, their employer cannot fire them. Past substance use cannot be used for current firing. As long as you are voluntarily entering treatment, it is not legal to fire you simply for going to rehab. You can coordinate so your job will be waiting when you return. If you want to talk about your treatment options, our counselors are available 24/7 at 772-266-5320.

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Essentials mission is to renew lives impacted by addiction through personalized and complete behavioral healthcare. Our main purpose is to provide services and education to the client and family that will support long lasting recovery of mind, body, and spirit.