Deciding to go to rehab for your substance use disorder is an essential first step. However, some people are concerned about whether they will have a job after completing rehab and often ask, “Can I get fired for going to rehab?”
Do I Have to Tell My Employer I am Going to Rehab?
Generally, you do not have to tell your employer you are going to rehab. It is none of their business as to the reason why you requested time off, whether you are using personal time, vacation time, sick time, or decide to take a leave of absence due to medical reasons.
In addition, your employer cannot force you to tell them why you need the time off. However, suppose your employer requires a medical note. In that case, you can have your doctor or the treatment center where you will be receiving treatment provide a generic note that basically states you need the time off due to a personal medical reason.
Although, if your job requires you to work with or around drugs and alcohol, then you may want to inform your employer after you return from rehab so they can accommodate any special needs or restrictions related to your recovery.
Can I Get Fired for Going to Rehab?
Employers cannot fire you for going to rehab. Treating addiction is considered a chronic medical condition. As such, your employer cannot end your employment by seeking medical care for your medical condition.
However, employers may fire employees when there is a legitimate reason, such as constantly showing up late, missing too much work, or not performing one’s job duties. So, if your substance use affects your work performance, your employer could theoretically terminate you. Yet, they cannot directly fire you for wanting to go to rehab.
Additionally, some jobs may require random alcohol and drug testing as part of the job duties or mandatory testing when there is an accident. So, if you violate a company policy or fail alcohol and drug testing, your employer could choose to terminate you.
What Laws Protect My Job When I Go to Rehab?
Several laws protect your job when you go to rehab, including:
- The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): This law protects your job when you take time off to go to rehab by providing up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specific family and medical reasons, including going to rehab. You may be eligible if you have worked at least 1,250 hours for an employer with at least 50 employees during the past year.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): This law prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the workplace. Suppose you are going to rehab due to an addiction considered a disability under the ADA. In that case, your employer must make reasonable accommodations for your treatment and recovery unless doing so would cause an undue hardship on the employer’s operations.
- State Laws: Many states have laws that protect employees from discrimination based on their use of alcohol or drugs as part of a medical treatment program such as drug rehabilitation. These state laws typically provide additional protection beyond what is offered by federal laws such as FMLA or ADA, so it’s essential to check your state laws before entering rehab.
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Can My Employer Find Out I Am In Rehab?
Unless you tell your employer or a co-worker that overly gossips, your employer cannot easily find out you are in rehab. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that protects your personal health information from being shared without your consent.
This means that any information about you attending rehab, such as records of check-ins or treatments, must remain confidential unless you authorize its release. Your employer cannot access this information without your permission, even if they pay for the treatment through a company-sponsored health insurance plan.
Additionally, HIPAA requires healthcare providers to use secure methods to store and transmit all protected health information, so it is not possible for employers to obtain the data through other means.
What If I Work for a Small Business?
While the FMLA will not apply to businesses with fewer than 50 employees, the ADA can still protect your job. If you have an addiction that is considered a disability under the ADA, then your employer must make reasonable accommodations for your treatment and recovery unless doing so would cause an undue hardship on the employer’s operations.
There may also be state laws that protect your job when you go to rehab. You can find out more about these by doing some research or talking to the intake specialist at the rehab center.
What If My Employer Fired Me for Going to Rehab?
If your employer fires you for going to rehab, they can be in violation of the FMLA, ADA, or state laws. Therefore, it is best to consult an attorney specializing in employment law to determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit and how to proceed. Most attorneys offer a free consultation, so it costs nothing to get legal advice.
Why You Should Not Let Fear of Losing Your Job Stop You From Going to Rehab
It is important not to let the fear of losing your job prevent you from seeking help for an addiction. Addiction is a serious and life-threatening condition requiring professional treatment to achieve long-term recovery.
Additionally, there are laws in place that protect your job while you are receiving treatment, so it is crucial to understand what protections are available before entering rehab. Finally, remember that getting help for an addiction can ultimately lead to improved work performance and greater career success in the long run.
Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery in Murfreesboro, TN
At Tulip Hill, we offer comprehensive substance use disorder treatment and recovery services in Murfreesboro, TN. Our experienced team provides personalized treatment plans and care to meet the needs of each individual. We understand that addiction can be a difficult journey, but with the right support system in place, it is possible to make lasting changes. To start your treatment, contact us today.