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Can You Lose Your Job for Going to Rehab?

As you consider rehab for either yourself or a loved one, the inevitable question will arise: Can you lose your job for going to rehab? It’s a valid question, especially during such a stressful time. Ensuring that one does not get fired for going to rehab can be a key concern to many who are considering the life-altering process of rehab. After all, you can’t put a price on health and mental well being.

Fortunately, several key protections are in place to protect those looking to recover from addiction. Join us in exploring these options as we dive deeper into how attending rehab can affect your work life.

Can You Lose Your Job for Going to Rehab?

Technically speaking, yes, it is possible to lose your job for going to rehab. However, there are far more protections for employees in this regard than there are for employers. By taking proper precautions, you can hold on to your job in the event you go to rehab.

Most cases in which a person loses their job for going to rehab involve a policy violation.  If there are strict and non-discriminatory rules in the employee contract about rehab or drug use, and it is found that the employee has violated this contract, then the employer may be justified in firing that person. Also, a specific policy against active drug or alcohol use while on the clock would justify the employer firing that person.

However, if an employer violates their own contract, or implements discriminatory rules into their policies, employees may be entitled to legal damages. Depending on the circumstances, these situations sometimes result in long, drawn-out legal battles that can go either way. Violating clear and unbiased company policies is the easiest legal way for an employer to fire someone for substance abuse-related reasons.

Can You Go To Rehab and Still Work?

Most rehab centers around the country discourage any type of work while undergoing rehab. The reason for this is it can distract or alter the course of recovery. Most rehab centers strive to remove distractions or triggers that can cause stress or risk relapse. Because of this, most rehab centers disallow cell phones and laptops during rehabilitation for drug or alcohol addiction. This of course means that even remote work is nearly impossible to do while in rehab.

However, if undergoing outpatient or group therapy rehabilitation, some exceptions exist. For instance, you can undergo weekly group meetings or certain outpatient therapies while working. It all depends on the individual’s personal circumstances, as well as the circumstances surrounding their addiction and their recovery timeline.

Can You Collect Unemployment While In Rehab?

Now that we have answered the question of whether you can lose your job for going to rehab, it’s time to explore unemployment options. In short, yes, you can collect unemployment while in rehab. As long as you qualify for unemployment, rehab should have zero effect on whether you can collect your unemployment benefits. Still, one should get their paperwork in order before beginning rehab. After all, the sole focus of rehab ought to be on recovery.

How You Are Protected if You Go to Drug Rehab?

The law offers multiple protections from termination in the event that you require rehab. As previously mentioned, employees enjoy a greater range of protections than those enjoyed by employers. In short, if you need help and have not committed any policy violations, you will not get fired for going to rehab.

There exist several key laws and agencies behind the protections for workers. The Family Medical Leave Act is the first line of defense for employees in the event of a medical emergency. This applies to all U.S. companies that employ 50 or more people. If you have worked with your employer for at least 12 months, with at least 1,250 hours of work time, you are eligible for protection under the FMLA.  

For those who don’t qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act, there is the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act. This legislation protects those struggling with disabilities, including those living with debilitating addiction or substance abuse disorders. The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to all companies that employ 15 or more people. Using substances while at work, or allowing substance abuse to affect job performance, are the two of the ADA’s biggest disqualifications. However, as long as you are enrolled in a substance abuse treatment program, you are protected under the ADA.

The Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act (MHPAEA) calls for substance use disorder treatment to be viewed in the same way as other physical health treatments. As such, it requires employers cover substance use disorder treatments through the insurance they provide to employees. 

Find Treatment for Dependency in Tennessee 

Here at Tennessee Valley Recovery, we want to help you in your journey to recovery. Located in Knoxville, TN, we provide a tranquil environment conducive to healing. Allow our compassionate and knowledgeable staff to give you the tools necessary for lasting lifelong change. There has never been a better time to reclaim your freedom and your life. Go to our admissions page today and take the first steps in your personal recovery journey.