Many people who struggle with addiction refuse rehab out of fear. In fact, many people believe that entering rehab could have negative consequences on their personal and professional lives. Even if they do get sober, there’s always the lingering fear that they’ll come out of rehab without family, friends, or a job. In truth, any “friends” or “family” who desert you because you admitted to a problem don’t deserve you— especially if you sought a healthy, legal, and even Christian resolution. When it comes to a career, though, it’s not as cut-and-dry. It’s understandable that an employer may need someone new to take over your responsibilities while you’re in rehab. After all, you may be absent anywhere from a few weeks to a month or two. Fortunately, when it comes to protecting your job, the law is on your side.
Federal Acts that Protect Your Job During Rehab
The ADA and the Rehabilitation Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act can both protect your job during rehab. These acts ensure that, as a person in addiction recovery, you cannot be discriminated against by employers or potential employers. So, employees covered by one or both of these federal laws can’t be fired for entering rehab to address addiction.
To protect your job during rehab under the ADA, you must work for a:
- federal government agency
- state or local government agency
- private company with at least 15 employees
The ADA requires that employers provide reasonable accommodation to support someone who has a disability, so some employers will hold a job space for individuals in rehab. This is mostly because chronic addiction is an impairment of a person’s ability to function in an otherwise normal manner. The Rehabilitation Act only applies to federal employers or employers who receive revenue in the form of federal money. This includes grants, financial aid, or government contract.
The Family and Medical Leave Act
Another federal law that can protect your job during rehab is the Family and Medical Leave Act. It gives covered employees the ability to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if they need treatment for a serious health condition. With this in mind, the FMLA covers substance abuse treatment. Depending on your employer’s policies, you might also be able to use accrued paid time off (PTO) to cover part of your leave. This way, you or your family will still receive income.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides a free, downloadable booklet detailing the rights many works have under federal laws with regard to taking time for rehab.
Other Factors in Job Loss Due to Addiction
It is important to note that drug or alcohol addiction isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to keeping your employment. Your employer(s) can still fire you for other addiction-related reasons. In fact, testing positive for drugs or alcohol at work is a frequently cited reason for immediate termination. Plus, if your employer finds you engaged in any addiction-related illegal activity on the job, they have the right to fire you.
Other reasons for addiction-related termination include:
- being constantly late or absent from work because you are using
- a notable drop in work performance related to substance use or withdrawals
- aggressive or other inappropriate behavior in the workplace related to your drug or alcohol use
Once you cross certain lines with your employer, it can be more difficult to make a case for yourself, even with rehab. This is part of why it’s better to confront the problem sooner rather than later. You might be worried about losing your job by going to rehab, but you should be more worried about losing your job by not going.
Choosing Sobriety Over Career Success
Many people choose to chase career success over sobriety. This is a mistake for many reasons. First, it puts you in the position of battling addiction alone— a battle you’ll lose without help. Even if you find success initially, eventually, you’ll be found out or something will go wrong. And, at that point, you’ll only have more to lose.
For Christians, this path is especially bad because it involves acting in so many ways that go against Scripture and Christian beliefs. To hold onto success while abusing drugs and alcohol, you may have to lie. Eventually, you could find yourself cheating, stealing or mistreating others just to get the next high and hide your addiction.
At Road to Freedom, we work with you to find a path back to sobriety so you can pick up career pieces or move into a completely new — and drug-free — phase of life. You might be surprised how many employers are willing to help you make such a step, especially if you make it a point to seek help before things get too bad.
No matter where you are in addiction, though, or what has gone wrong, it’s never too late. Call us today for more information on our rehab program. (844) 402-3605.