August 05, 2020

EEOC Issues Guidance for Employees on Use of Opioids

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the publication of two Technical Assistance Documents or Guidances: one for employees and one for health care providers. The Guidance for employees  addresses 14 frequently asked questions about opioid use and employment.

Topics include: (1) Disqualification From a Job; (2) Performance and Safety; (3) and Protect Your Rights. Some tips the Guidance gives to employees includes:

  • It is your responsibility to ask for a reasonable accommodation if you want one.
  • An employer may deny you an accommodation if you use opioids illegally, even if you have Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).
  • The ADA allows employers to fire you and take other employment actions against you based on illegal use of opioids, even if you do not have performance or safety problems. Also, employers are allowed to disqualify you if another federal law requires them to do it.

The Guidance for health care provides may be helpful for employers as well.  It suggests to HCP’s, “Documentation is most likely to support your patient’s request if, using plain language, it explains the following…” The Guidance then lays out five types of information with an explanation for each and why it would be helpful to the employer.

Tips for Employers. Perhaps, most importantly for readers, the Guidance also includes information and proactive practices for employers. For example, before a drug or substance test is administered, may an employer ask an employee if s/he takes medication that could cause a positive result? Join FiveL’s October 28th webcast, “Happy Anniversary ADA!…” for the answer to this question and more!