Can I Get Fired For Going to Rehab?

woman worried about getting fired for going to rehab

Deciding to attend treatment for a substance use disorder is the best decision you can make for yourself. However, this choice can be a great source of anxiety and fear. You may be worried that you will lose your job or get fired if you take time off to attend addiction treatment. 

Thankfully, there are a few laws that can protect you from being fired for going to rehab. Laws and protections have been put in place to ensure that people like you do not get discriminated against or wrongfully terminated for seeking the help you need. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) protect you from being fired for going to rehab.

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that protects you from being wrongfully terminated for needing to take time off to go to an addiction treatment program. According to the United States Department of Labor, qualified employees of eligible employers can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in one year to take care of family or health concerns.[1] Thankfully, this includes taking time off for addiction treatment. 

You must qualify for the FMLA to use it for unpaid leave. Thankfully, this law covers most people who work in the United States for private and public employers with more than 50 employees. You qualify for the FMLA if you:

  • Have worked for your employer for at least 12 months (non-consecutively)
  • Have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours over the past 12 months 
  • Are employed at a job site that employs 50 or more people within a 75-mile radius 

You may be wondering about the exact conditions the FMLA protects. If you meet the above criteria, you can take 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the following reasons:

  • The birth of a child or to care for a newborn baby 
  • Caring for an adopted child or foster care child within one year of placement 
  • Caring for your spouse, child, or parent who struggles with a serious health condition 
  • Seeking treatment for a serious health condition that makes you unable to perform the essential duties of your job 

When the FMLA refers to a “serious health condition” this includes a substance use disorder, as it is considered a mental health condition that requires professional inpatient treatment. In other words, the FMLA prevents you from being fired for going to rehab. 

Understanding the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

If you do not meet the criteria for the FMLA, there is another law that protects you from being fired for going to rehab. This law is known as the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a federal law that prevents employees from being fired due to discrimination against disabilities, which includes drug addiction. 

It is important to note that if you are using substances while you are working, your employer can still fire you for breaking company rules. The only thing that the ADA or FMLA protects you from is being fired for attending treatment. 

For example, if you are planning to take 4 weeks of vacation to attend substance abuse treatment, your employer cannot fire you as this would be considered discrimination under the ADA.[2]

Talking to Your Employer About Attending Rehab

If you decide to use the FMLA to protect yourself against being fired for going to rehab, the procedure requires that you notify your employer. This can be scary, as no one wants to tell their employer that they are seeking treatment for a substance use disorder. However, planning what to say can take away some of the anxiety you are facing. 

When speaking to your employer about taking leave for rehab, you should:

  • Explain to your boss that you have a medical condition that requires inpatient medical treatment
  • Let your employer know how important your job is to you by explaining that your treatment will help you perform better at work 
  • Be upfront about your medical condition and be prepared to show medical records proving your need for treatment 
  • If your employer is telling you that you cannot take time off of work, let them know that you have looked into the FMLA and ADA 
  • Apologize to them for any scheduling inconveniences and explain that you will be a better employee due to the treatment you will receive 

If your employer is hesitant to provide you with full leave, you may want to consider outpatient treatment. If you think that attending a treatment program on an outpatient basis will benefit your recovery, this could allow you to continue working on a part-time basis. However, if you require inpatient treatment you should continue to advocate for yourself using the guidelines from the FMLA and ADA. 

Things to Consider About Addiction and the Workplace

While you cannot get fired for going to rehab, there are certain circumstances that the FMLA and ADA do not protect against. For example, using drugs or alcohol at the workplace could still get you fired if your employer has proof.

Some of the situations where you could still be fired include:

  • You have shown up drunk or high to your workplace 
  • You have been caught using drugs or alcohol at the workplace 
  • Your addiction has caused you to miss a considerable amount of work 
  • Your job performance is not meeting job-mandated levels 
  • You caused an accident at work where you or other employees were injured due to your substance abuse 
  • You failed a drug test after causing an accident at work 
  • In the past or present, your substance abuse has caused you to become aggressive or abusive towards other staff members 

Additionally, if you work for a small business you may not be covered by the FMLA. Thankfully, the ADA does prevent you from being fired for attending addiction treatment. Keep this in mind if you suffer from substance abuse and work for a small business. 

Attending Addiction Treatment as a Professional

If you or a loved one suffer from drug addiction and are concerned about losing your job, Moving Mountains is here to help. You are protected under the FMLA and ADA, allowing you to keep your job while you receive the support and professional treatment you need. 

If you are a professional who struggles with addiction, know that there is help available with your unique needs in mind. A drug and alcohol rehab center for professionals can help you get sober discreetly while also enabling you to manage your job with your recovery.

Contact Moving Mountains Recovery Center today to learn more about your treatment options.

References:

  1. https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/benefits-leave/fmla
  2. https://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.pdf

Related Posts

Understanding How Adventure Therapy Promotes Resilience and Trauma Recovery

Adventure therapy is a therapeutic process that helps you overcome mental health issues like substance use disorder and trauma by having you take part in various “adventures'' in a safe environment. This form of therapy became popular in the 1960s and continues to...

5 Myths About Trauma and Addiction

Trauma and addiction are strongly linked with one another. When you experience something traumatic, you experience emotional reactions that can be difficult to cope with. For example, feelings of exhaustion, confusion, sadness, anxiety, numbness, confusion, and...

Lucemyra (Lofexidine): A New, Non-Opioid Medication for Opioid Withdrawal Treatment

If you struggle with opioid addiction, you may know just how difficult it is to cope with the symptoms of withdrawal that appear when you suddenly stop taking an opioid. These flu-like symptoms can be so painful and uncomfortable that many people would rather continue...

How Can Attachment Style Affect Substance Abuse and Addiction

Millions of people across the United States live with substance abuse and addiction. These conditions put people at risk of severe mental, physical, and social harm. Without treatment, the effects of the addiction are likely to worsen or become life-threatening....

How Can Adventure Therapy Improve Mental Health?

Mental health is vital to the addiction recovery process. Many people who struggle with addiction also suffer from co-occurring mental health conditions. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “approximately 9.2 million...

5 Myths About Drug and Alcohol Rehab

Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that must be treated with the help of a professional rehab program. However, many people are intimidated by the thought of going to a residential treatment facility. The myths about drug and alcohol rehab perpetuate this...

Stereotypes About Addiction and Why They Are Dangerous

Addiction is a common disease that affects about 10% of Americans.[1] Despite addiction being so prevalent in our country, the attitude around this condition is not always supportive or understanding. Many people still believe in stereotypes and the stigma surrounding...

Hydrocodone Addiction: Signs Symptoms and Treatment

Hydrocodone is an opioid medication used to treat pain. This substance belongs to a class of drugs known as narcotic analgesics (opioids) and acts on the central nervous system in the brain. While this medication helps treat severe cases of pain, it is also known to...

Can My Family Visit Me During Rehab in New Jersey?

Going to rehab for an addiction can be extremely scary, primarily if you’ve never attended addiction treatment. While giving up drugs and alcohol is distressing, inpatient treatment programs also require you to take time away from your family and friends.  Being...

How to Choose an Opioid Rehab Center in New Jersey

10.1 million people abused a prescription opioid last year and more than 1.6 million people have an opioid use disorder.[1] While treatable, opioid addiction is extremely difficult to overcome due to the withdrawal symptoms that appear when people quit and the ways in...

Take The First Step to a New Life

Transform daydreams into realities

Moving Mountains takes a whole-person approach to recovery by offering a continuum of care, clinically proven treatments, and holistic healing. We work closely with you to identify your unique needs, facilitate individualized treatments, and help you establish a foundation upon which your recovery--and the rest of your life--can grow. Our compassionate, friendly staff is available 24-hours a day to take your call and help you begin your recovery journey.

 

Combatting the ever-growing drug epidemic that this country faces begins with you. Make the most of our vast knowledge of addiction treatment and our proven ability to change lives. Let's Move Mountains together.  Take the first step towards a new, better life by giving us a call today.

Begin RecoveryVerify Insurance

Get Addiction Help Now
(973) 315-6121
Representatives available now.