How to Talk to Your Employer about Rehab
Preparing for change in life is no easy task. Especially when it comes to making a change in everyday routines. Most are aware of the old saying, “it takes 3 weeks to break a habit.” But does it really only take weeks? According to several behavioral therapists and clinicians, the idea of “breaking a habit” is complex as there are variables that affect everyone differently. Finding a clear answer to creating positive change may not come so easily, especially when faced with substance dependency and addiction. Navigating the road to sobriety can be incredibly difficult. Fortunately, through addiction treatment programs, change is not only possible it’s deserved. You and your loved ones deserve access to programs that offer supportive services for substance addiction.
Still, many can be fearful of reaching out for help. In a 2017 American Addiction Centers survey, an estimated 20.7 million people age 12 and older needed treatment for a substance abuse disorder. Only four million people received treatment or about 19%. Stigma is a real issue that negatively impacts those who suffer from addiction and may want to seek help. One of the most common questions is, can I be fired for going to rehab? Let’s explore more on that topic below.
What are my Rights Under the American Disabilities Act (ADA)?
If you’re asking, can I be fired for going to rehab, it’s important to understand your rights. Losing employment for receiving medical care and rehabilitative services for drugs and alcohol addiction is a reasonable worry. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act does recognize substance dependence as a qualified disorder. Below are the three definitions the American Disabilities Act may utilize to determine eligibility for benefits.
- A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, e.g. someone with bipolar disorder, diabetes, or addiction to alcohol.
- A history of an impairment that substantially limited one or more major life activities, e.g. someone who has a history of cancer; or someone in recovery from illegal use of drugs
- Been regarded as having such an impairment, e.g. someone who has a family member who has HIV, so is assumed to have HIV as well and face discrimination as a result, or someone who is perceived to have a disability and is treated negatively based on the assumption of disability.
Every American is able to be evaluated and assessed for the possibility of receiving disability benefits. And yes, according to the American Disability Act National Network, “regardless of whether the addiction to alcohol is current or in the past, it is generally considered a disability because it is an impairment that affects the brain and neurological functions.” Individuals and families struggling with substance dependence are protected under the ADA. Below is a list of the three Titles that offer safety and security from experiencing discrimination while receiving rehabilitative services.
- Employment (Title I): Employers must make reasonable accommodations, which can include a change in the way work is performed.
- State and local governments (Title II): Governments must provide access to services, programs, and activities in public education, corrections, and the court.
- Places of public accommodation (Title III): Access to goods and services in such places as sober homes, health care facilities and other private businesses that serve the public.
Can I be Fired for Going to Rehab? Protected Under the ADA, but Still Let Go!
Can I be fired going to rehab? While you are, in fact, protect under ADA for such events occurring, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. However, it’s important to know your rights. Determining ADA eligibility can be a lengthy process and sometimes the determination of benefits requires the assistance of lawyers. It is recommended an employee speak with their Human Resource department to find what benefits they may offer as an individual organization. Many established benefits are offered for full-time employment. These benefits include:
- Paid Time Off (PTO)
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
- Short-Term Disability
- Long-Term Disability
It is highly encouraged for employees exploring the idea of rehabilitative services to speak with their Human Resources representative about the Family and Medical Leave Act. According to the law,) an “employee can get up to 12 weeks of leave (either paid or unpaid) every 12 months in order to handle a serious health condition.” Rehabilitative services are considered to be covered disorders under the ADA.
FMLA and other programs are offered by many employers, and employers are required to provide benefits to eligible employees. It is the responsibility of the employee to follow necessary requirements in order to receive such benefits. Many of these requirements include maintaining full-time employment status, remaining covered under employer health insurance policies, and the proper election of benefits during annual benefit enrollment periods. According to DrugRehab.com, “Once an employee is granted a leave of absence, the employer must protect the position until the authorized period of leave expires, and more importantly, the employer must maintain the employee’s health insurance coverage.”
Does the ADA Apply to Addiction to Alcohol and Other Drugs Differently?
Although the American Disabilities Act views the struggle with drugs and alcohol as a qualified disorder, it can be difficult for an employee to receive the full benefits offered under the act. The employer does have rights as well. Employers are allowed the opportunity to assess the employee prior to the implementation of disability benefits. Because of this, it is important to speak with your Human Resources department and a lawyer if need be. Employers have the right to deny services should they be able to prove that the absence of the individual may cause a great level of difficulty, safety concerns, or significant financial loss due to the absence of an employee during the time of rehabilitation and recovery. AspenRidge is here to help you with better understanding the full process of rehabilitative services.
What Can AspenRidge do to Help me Navigate Rehabilitation and My Rights as an Employee?
- Day Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
- Day Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- REACH Online Intensive Treatment Program
- Outpatient Treatment Program
- REACH Reset
AspenRidge is focused on providing the best care possible. This does include working with patients and their families to offer the best possible outcome. As part of the services received at AspenRidge, each patient will be offered the ability to speak with specialists about insurance and other financial responsibilities. It is encouraged for prospective individuals to contact AspenRidge as well as their own employer should they feel comfortable discussing their rehabilitative services. AspenRidge is dedicated and is legally obligated to follow all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements. Confidentiality will be maintained at AspenRidge. If you feel uncomfortable discussing rehabilitative services with your employer, please contact the staff at AspenRidge to discuss options available to you.
Further information for treatment programs can be found on our website or by giving AspenRidge Recovery Centers a call directly 24/7 is also available by phone at 855-281-5588.