Can You Get Fired from Your Job for Going to Rehab

Can You Get Fired from Your Job for Going to Rehab?

The writing is on the wall.  Either you or your loved one take the important step to get treatment for a drug or alcohol problem or face unforeseen consequences that can seriously impact your life, your family, and your career.  Coming to this revelation usually follows a series of health problems, financial issues, relationship challenges, or legal requirements—any or all of the above—related to a substance use disorder that coalesce, prompting a change in your life.

One of the biggest obstacles to following through and seeking out drug and alcohol addiction treatment is the fear of being terminated from one’s job.  Between fear of losing your source of income and dreading the stigma that can accompany a rehab stint if revealed at work, skipping rehab altogether may be tempting.  If wondering, “Can you get fired from your job for going to rehab,” read on.

Best Ways to Plan a Stint in Rehab with Employer

The way you handle your request for an extended leave in order to go to rehab is critical when wondering, “Can you get fired from your job for going to rehab?”  Mishandle the process and, yes, you can face termination.  For instance, impulsively entering rehab without giving the employer notice or requesting a medical leave of absence can very well result in termination.  The best way to proceed is to sit down with an HR representative or your immediate supervisor and explain the need for addiction treatment.  Handling this matter in a constructive, professional manner is imperative for things to go smoothly at work.

Even though you may feel uncomfortable discussing the need for rehab, most employers have dealt with this common issue before.  There is usually a specific process for requesting a medical leave of absence and they will guide you through the paperwork.  Employers want to feel assured that you intend to return to the job following treatment, and that you have made plans with coworkers to help with the work overflow in your absence.  Employers typically do not react negatively to an employee’s need for treatment, as they see it as an investment in a more productive, healthier employee in the near future.

Protections Under the Law

Can you get fired from your job for going to rehab?  In most cases, no, you cannot.  There are clearly written laws in place that protect individuals with a disability from losing their jobs.  These protections are found in both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Under the FMLA, individuals with a medical need for an extended leave of absence, including a serious health condition of the employee which prohibits them from working, can be granted up to 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave without the risk of losing their job.  This means that after the 12-week leave, the former position, or a comparable one, with the same benefits and pay will be guaranteed.

The ADA lists mental health disorders and substance use disorders among the disabilities protected under the law.  Generally, the ADA protects the employee from being fired for receiving treatment for a substance use disorder or dual diagnosis.

Reasons Employers May be justified in Firing You

There are some caveats that can result in an employee being terminated due to receiving treatment for a substance use disorder.  If the employee has engaged in active drug or alcohol use while employed, the employer can terminate them.  Also, companies with fewer than 50 employees are not covered under the FMLA.

Regardless of whether an employee has been in treatment or not, the employer has the right to expect all employees to meet the defined standards of the job.  If workplace performance is subpar or there are excessive absences, or any other reasons that justify termination, that employer is within their rights.

Phoenix Rising Addiction Center Health Care Effectively Treats Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Phoenix Rising Addiction Center offers rehabilitation for substance abuse and addiction, serving South Orange County, California.  Phoenix Rising combines evidence-based treatment modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Pseudo Attachment therapy, with 12-step programming to produce lasting recovery results for clients.  Call Phoenix Rising and ask the compassionate staff, “Can you get fired from your job for going to rehab” to get the important answers and guidance needed to take the first step toward recovery.  For more information about our program offerings, please contact Phoenix Rising today at (949) 518-0345.