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EEOC Issues Guidance on Opioid Addiction and the ADA

In August of 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued two publications meant to clarify existing legislation pertaining to opioid addiction and employment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a civil rights law passed in 1990 prohibiting discrimination of employees based on a disability within the workplace.

The first publication entitled “Use of Codeine, Oxycodone, and Other Opioids: Information for Employees,” provides confirmation that the ADA does not protect individuals taking illegal drugs for a debilitating issue. However, the ADA does protect employees from being discriminated against if the employee is:

  • Lawfully using opioid medication;
  • Receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction; or
  • In recovery from opioid addiction.

Additionally, within the document the EEOC outlines several reasonable accommodations employees, who are legally using opioids, can request and guidance for employers about an employee’s ability to safely perform their job operations.

The second publication, entitled How Health Care Providers Can Help Current and Former Patients Who Have Used Opioids Stay Employed,” provides important regulatory documentation to assist health care providers regarding patients’ rights under the ADA and in providing the proper documentation to employers when a patient, who uses opioids, needs a reasonable accommodation. The publication also provides information to assist employers in assessing an employee who legally uses opioids and whether they pose a workplace safety risk.

Read the Legal Update.

Contact your Cowden representative for more information on this or other compliance issues.