Addiction in the Workplace

Amy Epstein Gluck | September 22 | 1:30-2:30 PM | Room 2582

By discussing various scenarios that may arise in the workplace, what employers can (and cannot) legally do, and some best practice ideas for employers (including a clear drug and alcohol policy that is followed and enforced), this presentation will educate employees about their rights in the workplace if they are struggling with an alcohol or drug (including prescription) addiction, and educate employers as to their legal obligations in dealing with employees with addiction issues. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers with more than 15 employees to provide reasonable accommodations to employees that have disabilities, unless doing so would impose an undue burden on the employer. Using hypotheticals, the presenter will break down what constitutes a disability; when an addiction may rise to the level of a disability; what is a “reasonable accommodation;” some examples of accommodations to discuss (and the ongoing duty to have that discussion); and the nature of an “undue burden.” Small employers likely have similar obligations under state laws. Employers will learn how they can work with employees who suffer from addiction but are trying to become clean and sober.  Employees will learn that they may be entitled to various accommodations under the law (ADA and Family Medical Leave Act), and how to request these accommodations before their addiction becomes a performance or conduct problem that results in their demotion or termination. Further, both employers and employees will learn about the importance of documentation in dealing with an addiction issue at work.

Presentation Objectives:

·       Identify when an addiction rises to the level of disability

·       Educate employers’ legal obligations in dealing with employees’ addiction issues

·       Discuss the nature of “undue burden”

About the Presenter