If you voluntarily seek treatment, you have certain rights under California law
In 2019, we know much more about drug and alcohol addiction than we did before. For example, we know that it is a disease — and that there are ways to recover. In California, if you choose to seek help for an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you are protected under the law.
Employers with 25 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations to any employee who voluntarily chooses to enter into an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program. While you do not have a right to be paid during your time off of work, you can use your accrued sick days towards time off of work. In addition, your employer cannot discriminate against you for seeking treatment.
What is a reasonable accommodation under this law? According to a California employment lawyer, what accommodations are considered reasonable may change from workplace to workplace. Generally, the accommodation that you seek must not impose an undue hardship on your employer. Possible reasonable accommodations may include taking time off of work to go to rehab, adjusting your work schedule or breaks (perhaps to go to a meeting), being reassigned to a vacant position, or using sick days to seek treatment.
Under this California law, your employer cannot disclose to others that you have enrolled in a treatment program. Your company has to take reasonable efforts to protect your privacy. If your employer fails to do so, you may be entitled to money damages or the company may be sanctioned.
Employers cannot demote, wrongfully terminate, refuse to rehire, fail to promote, suspend or otherwise discriminate against an employee for taking leave to go to treatment. However, if you are unable to perform your duties or cannot perform your duties safely, then you may be fired or your job duties may be changed.
For example, if you are a city bus driver and you ask to take leave to address your alcohol addiction, your employer may choose to reassign you to a non-driving position or even to fire you. This action would likely be considered reasonable because driving a bus as someone who abuses alcohol would endanger your health and safety and the health and safety of your passengers.
If your employer violates your rights under this law, you may have recourse. A California employment lawyer can work with you to determine the best course of action. This may include filing a claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement at the California Department of Industrial Relations.
If you have been discriminated against on any basis at your workplace — whether it is because you voluntarily took leave to go to rehab, because of your race or gender, or because you blew the whistle on illegal activity — you may be entitled to damages. PLBSH can help you seek justice. Our team of legal professionals is dedicated to working with workers across California who have suffered discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other wrongful conduct. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation with a California employment lawyer.