Addiction in the workplace
Employees who are addicted to drugs but have stopped using them illegally and are receiving treatment are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. If they have been successfully rehabilitated from a past addiction, they cannot be discriminated against in the workplace.
“But the ADA does allow for employers to maintain a workplace that’s free of drugs and alcohol,” said Jesse Dill, a senior attorney at Walcheske & Luzi LLC in Brookfield who specializes in employment and labor issues.
If an employee is observed by co-workers or superiors behaving in a suspicious way that could indicate drug use in the workplace, he or she can be drug tested. If the employee tests positive, he or she can be fired.
“Situations we see … if somebody’s in a safety position, usually it’s zero tolerance,” Dill said. “With smaller employers and family-operated organizations, if something like this comes up with an employee that doesn’t pose a direct threat to the safety of the public, they’re a little more open to trying to get them some help. It just really depends on the employer’s culture.
“Usually with larger employers, there’s a concern for safety and also consistency. If it’s ongoing drug use, that isn’t going to be protected by the law. The employer can terminate based on current use.”
Dill recommended companies interested in setting up procedures for how to handle drug use in the workplace and drug-addicted employees seek professional help.
Read the rest of the BizTimes article here.