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If I'm in Rehab, Must an Employer Hold My Job?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 03, 2011 5:51 AM

Charlie Sheen's drug problems aren't news to anyone, but his recent foray into at-home rehab is. While Sheen is tended to by an addiction specialist in the comfort of his home, CBS has begun planning for the future of Sheen's Two and a Half Men time slot.

While we may not all be celebrities raking in millions for our employers, the plight of Charlie Sheen raises an interesting question for the everyday person: must an employer hold your job if you need to take leave for rehab?

The American with Disabilities Act, which prevents employers from discriminating against persons with disabilities, considers alcoholics and recovering drug addicts to be disabled. While the Act does not provide protection for those who go to work impaired or under the influence, or for those currently using illicit drugs, it does provide protection for those seeking to take rehabilitation leave.

Alcoholics and addicts are entitled to a reasonable accommodation, which basically amounts to a change in an employer's policy to accommodate an employee's disability. In the case of addicts and alcoholics seeking leave for rehab, a reasonable accommodation may include holding an employee's job, allowing the employee to use accrued paid leave and then take unpaid leave, and not applying a "no-fault" leave policy. Note, however, that employers are entitled to offer an alternative accommodation or put a time limit on leave if the employee's absence causes undue hardship.

Though you probably can't attend treatment while lounging at home, take heart. The law grants you, too, time for rehabilitation leave.

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