We all have to work. Getting a job when you are first getting sober, or even years into sobriety, can be tricky in regards to what to tell your prospective new employer, what they can ask you, and what your rights are.
The Americans With Disabilities Act was put into law in 1990. The Rehabilitation Act was passed in 1973. Both those laws were written to protect employees from future employers discriminating against them because of a disability. Addiction is covered under that umbrella, to a degree. Previous addictions qualify as a covered disability, but it does not cover someone who is actively using drugs and alcohol. In short, just because these laws are on the books doesn’t mean that an addict can use drugs and drink at work and be protected. You are not, and nor should anyone be, protected by your addiction to stay drunk or high on the job. What you are protected against is a company not hiring you because you have received treatment for addiction and are in recovery.
The states of Colorado and Washington recently legalized marijuana. Many would think that with the laws we just talked about, employers can’t terminate your employment for a positive drug test or because they caught you smoking marijuana. Even if it is for medicinal purposes, a company may fire you for testing positive. It falls under the parts of these laws of current substance abuse. A man recently lost his court case against his employer in Seattle. He was prescribed marijuana for medical reasons. His bosses told him they can’t have one of their employees using drugs. He got fired, he sued them, and he lost.
There are some questions that employers can’t ask. There are some questions that a future employee should not answer. For the most part, a business has the proper hiring procedures in place. Some may not and some may flirt with the line of what’s legal to ask and what is illegal to ask.
If you think you are being asked a question you shouldn’t have to answer or you feel you are being discriminated against the best advice is to talk to an attorney. You can also contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who oversees these issues.
If you have recently lost your job or your job is in jeopardy due to your addiction, and you want help; Clearbrook can offer you hope. Our Admissions Specialists are available 24/7 and they will walk you through the process of taking the necessary steps to deal with your disease.