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How Should Employers Deal with Employees Suffering from Opioid Addiction?


The Equal Employment Opportunity Council released guidance early in August 2020 that addressed employees who may be suffering from opioid addiction, referring to it as an opioid disability protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

While this guidance is directed specifically towards employees, employers can read through the document to help them think about how to deal with the issues addressed. When an employee comes to an employer with an addiction, especially opioid addiction, understand that it is classified as a disability under the ADA, meaning the employer is required to provide reasonable accommodation.

If the company has a drug testing policy and an employee tests positive for a particular drug, if they have a prescription for it—in order to treat something that is a legitimate medical concern—know that this is a disability and not a reason to fire them. If the employee is unable to safely operate heavy machinery under the particular drug, reasonable accommodation may be needed if the employer can afford it.

About the author, Rhamy

Rhamy grew up watching and working with his mother and grandmother in the senior insurance market. This familiarity with the struggles faced by people trying to navigate the incredibly complicated and heavily regulated healthcare market led him to start Poplar Financial while working on his degree at the University of Memphis. After completing his MBA and Bachelors in Finance and Economics, Rhamy guided Poplar Financial through the disruptive opportunity that is the Affordable Care Act. Since then Poplar Financial has received numerous awards from major insurance carriers and has completed its fourth year in a row of doubling in size. Now his team focuses on the processes around human resources and specializes in providing companies with between 20 and 1000 employees with the payroll, benefits, and HR needs.

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