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.