Opioid Epidemic Raises Questions About Workplace Discrimination


October 12, 2018

ATLANTA — Business leaders are facing difficult questions as they tangle with handling employees who take prescribed opioid-based drugs. The genesis of the current opioid epidemic stems from the abuse of prescription painkillers. Employers have a right to demand that their business be a drug-free workplace. However, the opioid problem is so widespread that employers are highly likely to have employees battling addition. The difficult question is how businesses should handle the problem? Bizjournals.com reports that even if the employee is not a disabled person legally, the Americans with Disabilities Act might qualify as a disabled person based on the ADA. If that is the case, then the ADA would protect the employee against discrimination in the workplace.*

Even after the discovery that prescription painkillers led to illegal opioid abuse, Georgia residents continue to take the drugs. The Georgia Department of Health determined that heroin and fentanyl overdose deaths continue to rise. In 2017, 1,043 people succumbed to an opioid-based overdose. The scourge seeps its way into all facets of life, even on the job.

People have a right to work and take their medicine. Notwithstanding those rights, prescription opioids affect the way people work and can impair their daily functions. Employers have limited rights to test an employee for drugs, even after a workplace accident 

Employers can take some measures to protect themselves and their employees. For example, updating personnel policies to treat people on an individual basis without making blanket prohibitions is advisable. Business owners should update their personnel policies to reflect the changing times regarding drug use or abuse. Additionally, employers should endeavor to educate their workers about safety concerns and offer assistance to people struggling with addiction.

Drug testing could become part of a business’ drug-free workplace policy. A drug-testing protocol applied uniformly will avoid the appearance of discrimination against a protected employee. Lastly, implementing an employee assistance program designed to help employees battling addiction can help avoid discrimination under the ADA.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 34 Years Of Legal Experience To Work For Your Case!

If you have been injured in any type of accident caused by someone else’s negligence, call Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law for your free consultation today. Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over thirty-four years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour live chat. 

Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law

17 Executive Park Dr NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Telephone: 1 (800) LAW-NEED
Telephone: 1 (404) 529-6333

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.