Are alcoholism and other addictions considered disabilities that my employer has to accommodate?

Yes and no. An employer never has to allow an employee to come into the workplace intoxicated or refrain from disciplining and/or terminating an employee who does so.  However, there are aspects of the recovery process that employers must treat as a disability.  For example, if you need time off to get treatment, this request should be treated just the same as a request for other medical treatment.  If you were to need to leave early a certain day each week to attend a meeting, that should be evaluated the same way as other therapeutic appointments.  If you  wanted to be excused from a holiday party or other work-related event that was going to include alcohol, an employer should seriously consider this request as a legitimate workplace disability accommodation.

Under state and federal disability law, you can’t be fired or otherwise subjected to adverse employment action simply because you suffer from the disease of alcoholism or drug addiction.  If your employer has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), you may want to find out more and take advantage of the resources it offers.

For more information, please see https://ncadd.org/learn-about-alcohol/workplace and http://askjan.org/media/alcohol.html.

 

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