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Accommodation of a disability

Recovering drug addicts are protected from job discrimination

The law against disability discrimination extends to employees who are recovering drug addicts. Addiction is considered a disability because it affects major life activities. An employer can no more discriminate against a recovering drug addict than it can discriminate against a person who was treated for cancer. The laws against disability discrimination are designed to protect qualified handicapped employees from discrimination based on unlawful stereotypes about workers with a prior history of addiction.

Recovering addicts — as well as individuals erroneously perceived as engaging in illegal drug use — are entitled to protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Consider an employee who is terminated for illegal drug use.  If the employee is not currently engaged in the illegal use of drugs and is incorrectly regarded as using drugs, then the employer has engaged in disability discrimination.

Employees who are currently engaged in the illegal use of drugs are not entitled to protection under the ADA where the adverse job action is based on such use.

Pamela A. Smith
Law Office of Pamela A. Smith
233 Needham Street, Suite 540
Newton, MA 02464


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