The FMLA and Drug & Alcohol Abuse

Hello, and welcome to LegalEase. Today, I would like to talk about the FMLA and drug and alcohol abuse.

We recently had a segment on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and how individuals who are recovering from drug and alcohol abuse may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

What about the FMLA?

The FMLA can also apply to drug and alcohol use. The FMLA is the Family Medical Leave Act, and we know that the FMLA applies to employers with fifty or more employees, it provides 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave, and the applicable employee must have worked 1,250 hours during the past 12 months. The FMLA allows the employee to take time off to take care for self or a family member.

How does the FMLA apply to drug and alcohol abuse? Well, if the employee has a serious medical condition that fits within the FMLA, that employee is entitled to job protected leave under the FMLA if they meet the requirements we just discussed. Keep in mind that the employee can take FMLA for their own drug and alcohol treatment, for example, orthe drug and alcohol treatment of a family member.

Note: You can still discipline employees who have requested FMLA or who are on FMLA leave, if the employees are doing things that are against policy regulations. You cannot – employer –  take any action that is retaliatory.

 Keep in mind that some state laws, especially California, may differ so check state law.

The “take home” today is that drug and alcohol abuse can apply under the FMLA, as well as the ADA. It is important for employers to take a moment and evaluate each employee’s situation before denying the request.

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