As substance abuse continues to affect a record number of people, employees should be encouraged to pursue rehabilitation programs. However, many are reluctant to seek the treatment they need for a multitude of reasons, including the societal stigma associated with addiction, as well as the financial toll it can take on the individual and their family. If you are considering taking leave from work for a health-related reason, you may want to speak to an employment attorney so you know all of your options.
In addition, individuals are often afraid that seeking treatment may mean attending an inpatient facility, which means they cannot work. Employees may fear that taking leave from their employment to pursue and complete drug treatment may result in them facing adverse employment action or discrimination, ultimately resulting in termination or demotion. However, it is important that both employees and employers know that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects those seeking substance abuse treatment from a health-care provider.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA is a federal law that was passed in 1993 which allows individuals to care for themselves and certain family members for a discrete period of time if they are suffering certain medical conditions. The law was enacted to provide individuals with job security and healthcare during these difficult periods.
Some common reasons individuals take FMLA are when an employee or their spouse has a baby, if an immediate family member is seriously ill, or if they themselves are suffering an illness. There are various requirements that must be met to qualify for FMLA leave, and an experienced employment attorney can advise those interested in taking FMLA leave.
Drug Addiction Coverage under FMLA
Getting medical help through a rehabilitation program for addiction is a critical part of recovery. However, starting the process is a hurdle that many people must be encouraged to overcome. One way to facilitate recovery is to find out whether the afflicted individual is covered by FMLA. Some things to consider are whether an employee has been employed by a covered employer for 12 months or more and has worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer. If so, the employee may be eligible for FMLA leave.
In order to qualify for FMLA leave, the employee’s substance abuse must be considered a “serious health condition.” Generally speaking, if inpatient treatment is recommended, an employee’s drug use will likely qualify; however, an employer does not need to provide FMLA benefits if the individual is casually using a substance. When an employee seeks FMLA leave for a serious health condition such as drug addiction, an employer cannot take adverse employment action against the employee. Also of note is the fact that an employee may be able to take advantage of the FMLA to care for a covered family member who is receiving substance-abuse treatment.
Have You Been Discriminated Against by Your Employer for Taking FMLA?
If you have suffered interference or retaliation because you were seeking treatment for substance abuse after having attempted to take or having took FMLA leave, you should contact the Dallas attorneys at Rob Wiley, P.C. Our committed attorneys have decades of experience handling all types of employment matters, including those involving employees pursuing help for addiction through the FMLA leave. We can assist you in understanding your rights and remedies and help answer any other questions you have. Contact Rob Wiley, P.C. at 214-528-6500 to schedule a consultation today.
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