Employer Discrimination Against Suboxone Patients Is Illegal

Most of our lives revolve around our capacity to find and keep work. One of the reasons Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act is to address this issue (ADA).

12/21/20225 min read

Most of our lives revolve around our capacity to find and keep work. One of the reasons Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act is to address this issue (ADA). The Americans with Impairments Act (ADA) is a federal statute that forbids discrimination against employees and job candidates based on their disabilities.

Employees and job seekers are also protected under the ADA, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against individuals for taking drugs as recommended. As a result, a person receiving Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) is unlikely to be denied work, demoted, or fired as long as they take the prescriptions as directed. This includes opioid medicines like methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone).

The final issue is that discriminating against people who use buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) as prescribed is usually prohibited. This does not, however, mean that persons who are using Suboxone are safe if they are simultaneously abusing other drugs.

There are some exceptions that mean that not every business and employment is protected. We'll outline the current law on the topic below, but this isn't legal advice. We strongly advise you to consult a lawyer or legal aid agency in your state if you have been dismissed, demoted, or denied job because of your lawful use of prescribed medication, or if you have any other legal problems. This essay is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Is It Possible For an Employer to Refuse to Hire You If You Are on Suboxone?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal statute that affects every state in the US. In addition to the ADA's provisions, many states have their own laws protecting people with disabilities from discrimination.

The ADA sets a minimum, and many states have placed further safeguards on top of it, thus state laws are always in addition to federal regulations like the ADA. As a result, if you have been discriminated against at work because you are on Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT), you should speak with a lawyer or a legal aid agency in your state.

Suboxone is a drug that combines two drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid, which means that, despite the fact that it does not produce the same "high" as full opioids (e.g. heroin and oxycodone), and despite the fact that it is extremely safe and effective at helping people stop using opioids, some people still regard it as a potentially addictive substance.

Suboxone is rarely abused in reality since it does not have the same intoxication effects as full opioids. Both regular and enhanced opioid drug tests do not detect buprenorphine (and thus Suboxone). In order for a drug test to come up positive for buprenorphine, the drug tester would have to request one particularly for buprenorphine (an ingredient in Suboxone).

Although there is no reliable information on how many buprenorphine tests are administered by employers, we do know that more than half of private businesses in the United States require employees or job seekers to submit to a drug test. It's possible that a drug test for employees may look for buprenorphine (and therefore Suboxone).

The ADA does not prohibit companies from testing employees and job candidates for whatever medications they choose. The ADA may regulate what they do with the results, but the tests themselves are not.

Who is Not Covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The ADA protects those who use buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone). This is due to the ADA's "safe harbor" provision, which protects past illegal drug users who are no longer using them. Employees and job seekers who take buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) as prescribed are protected by the ADA, but there are some limitations.

Use of Illegal Drugs "at the moment"

Even if they are on Suboxone, employees and job seekers who are currently using illegal narcotics are not covered by the ADA. (The term "currently" is considered differently by different courts and can occasionally refer to several months of drug-free living.) Suboxone is not a controlled substance. As a result, most companies are unable to terminate, demote, or refuse to hire someone just because they are using Suboxone as prescribed.

Relapsing on illegal drugs can result in termination, which is just another reason why it is critical to avoid relapsing on illicit substances at all costs. Suboxone is quite successful at preventing relapses like these.

The ADA does not apply to all employers.
Private employers with at least 15 employees are covered under the ADA. If a person works for the federal government or a private firm with less than 15 employees, the ADA's anti-discrimination regulations may not apply (there may be other laws, including state laws, that protect these employees against discrimination). Employers who must comply with the ADA are referred to as "covered employers."
Exceptions for "Undue Suffering" and "Direct Threat"

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires covered employers to offer reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. However, covered companies may not be required to hire someone with a handicap if implementing the necessary adjustments would cause them "undue hardship." This means that if making accommodations for an employee's impairment would be prohibitively expensive or disruptive to the business, the employer will not be required to do so.

It is extremely unlikely that taking Suboxone would necessitate costly or disruptive accommodations (or any accommodations at all), therefore this will not be an issue for the great majority of people prescribed Suboxone.

Employers are also not required to hire someone if doing so would pose a "direct threat," but this is a rare outcome of Suboxone use. For example, if it would be harmful for a person to operate heavy machinery, the employer does not have to hire that individual to do so. This makes reasonable, and the choice should not be taken on a whim - each applicant or employee should be assessed individually to see if taking Suboxone would interfere with their "ability to properly execute her job.

Suboxone clinic's providers can typically write letters to employers stating that this is not an issue. This may not always solve the problem, however it will frequently assist you.

Employer Disclosure of Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT)

There is one important issue to remember about ADA protections for buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) users: It is nearly always preferable for an employee or job application to inform their employer about their Suboxone treatment.

Most companies are prohibited from making employment choices based on a person's legal medication use, but if an employee or candidate fails to disclose a prescription, the employer is permitted to infer that a positive drug test is the consequence of unlawful use. As a result, if an employee is being tested for Suboxone, it is nearly always appropriate for the employee to inform their employer about their Suboxone prescription. They can also submit a note from a doctor stating that the medicine would not impair their ability to do their work safely. These letters are frequently written by Suboxone clinic's providers.

Employers may not always disclose what drugs and prescriptions are tested for in drug tests, so disclosing Suboxone is typically the best option. Finally, if you're unsure what to do, we recommend seeking counsel from a legal aid group or a lawyer in your state. Many legal aid groups provide free legal advice to those who cannot afford it.

What Should You Do If You Are Discriminated Against?

To avoid sounding like a broken record, the best course of action is to contact with an attorney or legal assistance agency in your state. You can still take action against the employer if there are no affordable attorneys available. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of the United States publishes instructions on its website for filing discrimination complaints by employees and job applicants.

These complaints must be filed within 180 days of the discrimination in most situations. Any employee (even part-time) can submit a complaint with the EEOC, but there are special procedures to follow if your employer is the federal government. When needed, the specialists at Suboxone clinic can provide medical advice and can typically send letters to employers. Legal advice is not provided by Suboxone clinic.

For further Information, Please Contact Us.

Employees and job applicants must often abstain from illegal drugs for several months or risk being labeled as "current" users by their employers. Employers cannot normally discriminate against Suboxone users or job candidates, although they can discriminate against persons who have recently used illegal drugs. Suboxone has a high success rate in preventing relapse to illicit opiates.