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Can I Be Fired for Going to Rehab in Florida?

Addiction can ruin or take a life. Rehab is often the only way toward a cure. Deciding whether to go to rehab for addiction treatment can be lifesaving and can be a benefit to finances and quality of life down the line. However, it is a difficult decision to make.

One of the top reasons individuals who know they are suffering from addiction do not check into rehab is that they are concerned they will lose their jobs. Rehab can be a considerable expense, and the fear of not having a job to return to compounds the stress. This is even worse if the addict has a family depending on him or her.

Fortunately, in some scenarios a person can attend rehab while keeping his or her job. If you’re seeking legal advice for your specific case, contact our office today to speak with a Tampa employment lawyer. Our attorneys can guide you towards your best legal options.

Protection Under the Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 ensures that individuals who are struggling with medical conditions can take paid or unpaid leave with the guarantee of keeping their jobs. The FMLA covers several scenarios where a person might fear losing his or her job, but time off is necessary.

  • The FMLA covers the birth or adoption of a child.

  • The FMLA covers seeking treatment for an illness.

  • The FMLA covers caring for a sick child, spouse, or parent.

  • The FMLA covers circumstances pertaining to a member of the nuclear family being called to active military duty.

  • Does FMLA protect Rehab?

    It is not obvious whether the FMLA intended to cover rehab, but because addiction is a disease, the act may cover seeking treatment. Whether the employer pays leave is its decision. The FMLA only requires that employers offer leave and the guarantee of returning to the job in these circumstances.

    However, the FMLA does not protect every job, and the person seeking leave must meet certain requirements to claim it.

    • The employee must work for a private-sector company that has 50 or more employees living within a 75-mile radius, or for a public institution such as a school or hospital.
    • The employee must have worked at the institution for a year or more.
    • The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last year.

    A person who desires to enter rehab, whose job meets these requirements, and has a diagnosis of addiction, can likely take leave under the FMLA.

    Americans With Disabilities Act

    Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), addiction treatment is sometimes covered. However, this may only apply to an employee who wishes to keep his or her job and resume it upon completion of a rehab program, as the ADA classifies leave as available vacation days. Additionally, the ADA gives the employee a right to privacy about treatment. This is an excellent option for individuals who can use sick days and days off to attend treatment and rehab programs part time. He or she may be able to keep their job throughout rehab with total privacy.

    However, two caveats exist. First, this treatment tactic is often not ideal for severe addicts who need to check into a rehab center. Second, to qualify for the ADA and retain a position, the individual must be able to honestly declare that he or she has never been impaired from drink or drug while on the job. For some employees struggling with addiction, this is a great option, but it is not right for everyone.

    Attending Rehab

    If you or a loved one is actively experiencing addiction, remember that your life is more important than any job, so seek help as soon as possible. Certain provisions of the law open pathways to keep your job while seeking treatment. Find out more about the FMLA or the ADA.

    When in doubt, Contact an Attorney

    If you’d like to seek the legal advice from an experience Pasco County attorney before heading to rehab, or if you have any questions regarding the legal repercussions of your situation, contact our office today. Our experienced team can advise you on what proper steps to ensure the safety of your mental health, as well as your job.

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