Employers should be aware of two recent technical assistance guidance documents issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) addressing the opioid epidemic in relation to the antidiscrimination and reasonable accommodation provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
The first, “Use of Codeine, Oxycodone, and Other Opioids: Information for Employees,”1 explains opioid-related disabilities and provides questions and answers for employees who may wish to seek a reasonable accommodation in the workplace for lawful opioid use or an opioid addiction. The second, “How Health Care Providers Can Help Current and Former Patients Who Have Used Opioids Stay Employed,”2 provides guidance to health care providers providing information to employers on behalf of patients as part of the ADA reasonable accommodation process.
In an August 5, 2020, press release announcing the guidance, the EEOC stated that “[t]he increase of opioid use and abuse in recent years poses unique challenges to the workplace.”3 While not legally binding, both sets of guidance clarify the existing law and EEOC policies regarding the reasonable accommodation process in the context of opioid use.
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