As always, employers need to ensure they are staying on top of all government regulations and guidance. Recently, new guidance was issued related to opioid crisis issues.
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Earlier this month, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued guidance. The guidance is to combat discrimination against people in treatment or recovery from an opioid addiction.
The guidance states that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be enforced to prevent discrimination against people in recovery from opioid use disorder (OUD). These individuals are not currently using illegal drugs. Illegal drug use does not include any legally prescribed medication by a licensed healthcare professional.
The guidance provides a variety of examples to assist employers with different questions and scenarios.
A few helpful points from the guidance are as follows:
- The ADA does protect individuals taking legally prescribed medication to treat their OUD, so long as they are not engaged in the illegal use of drugs
- The ADA protects those with OUD participating in a drug treatment program
- The ADA protects individuals with a history of past OUD who no longer illegally use drugs
- The ADA protects people from discrimination based on their association with individuals who have OUD
- Employers can have drug policies and conduct drug testing for opioids.
For the full guidance, click HERE.
Overall, the guidance recognizes that people with OUD may be limited in one or more of their major life activities and that drug addiction is considered a physical or mental disability under the ADA.
Individuals engaging in current illegal drug use are not given protection by the ADA. Current illegal drug use is illegal drugs occurred recently enough to justify a reasonable belief that the use is current or real and ongoing.
If you have questions about your policies and procedures or any of your employees, contact us today. You should always engage legal counsel when reviewing your employee handbook, policies, procedures, or manuals.
If you have any questions about your business, call Rickard & Associates today!
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