The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released two documents this month that address opioid use and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The documents were written by Payne & Fears, a law firm based in Irvine, Calif.
Illegal drugs such as heroin and prescription drugs such as codeine, hydrocodone, meperidine, morphine, and oxycodone are all defined as opioids by the EEOC. The agency also includes drugs used to treat opioid addiction.
The first document, “Use of Codeine, Oxycodone, and Other Opioids,” informs employers that they cannot discriminate against anyone in treatment or in recovery from addiction or those who are using legal drugs. Employers also must hold a job open while the employee is in treatment/recovery for opioid addiction.
It also offers guidance on how employees may use or potentially misuse opioids. This helps employers deal with requests for reasonable accommodations.
Employers are permitted to seek medical evaluations but are never required to change the essential functions of a job.
The second document, “How Health Care Providers Can Help Current and Former Patients Who Have Used Opioids Stay Employed,” offers recommendations for medical professionals to assist them in providing the documentation necessary for employers. Documentation is used to determine whether an employee is a safety risk and to evaluate accommodation requests.