Choosing to pursue recovery from addiction issues can help you get your future back on track. Unfortunately, recovery is not an easy road to travel. In addition to dealing with the struggles of addiction, some people in recovery face social stigma, difficulty with employment, housing and more. If you or someone you love is a recovering addict, understanding your legal rights is the first step in protecting those rights.
Employers’ and Employees’ Rights
Regardless of what industry or sector you work in, employers must adhere to federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination. Two relevant laws include the Employment Discrimination Act and the Rehabilitation Act. The Employment Discrimination Act prohibits private-sector employers from discriminating against employees or candidates based on disabilities — including a history of drug use or alcohol abuse. Similarly, the Rehabilitation Act protects government employees from discrimination based on their addiction history.
Knowing whether an employer’s or prospective employer’s actions violated the law can be challenging. Generally speaking, if an employer isn’t treating you any differently than it treats other employees for the same infraction (or perceived infraction), and if the employer is enforcing policies that were in place before you were hired, the employer may be in compliance with employment discrimination laws.
If you feel your job application was denied because of past addiction issues, if you were denied a promotion, or your employment was terminated because of your addiction history, the employer may have violated your legal rights. Talking to an employment law attorney may help you understand your legal recourse.
People who have been through treatment and are in recovery often also face stigma and discrimination when it comes to renting apartments when they are ready to rejoin the community. In some cases, individuals in recovery may have a spotty rental history because of their past addiction problems. Landlords may be hesitant to rent to someone they perceive as a potentially risky tenant.
The Fair Housing Act provides some protection for people recovering from addiction, stating that landlords may not discriminate against people with mental impairments that limit their major life activities, or against people with a history of such impairments, including substance abuse issues. However, landlords are generally within their rights to take action against tenants who currently use illegal substances. Similarly, landlords who ask all potential tenants about drug use and criminal history when making rental determinations, rather than just asking certain people those questions, are likely in compliance with the law.
You Have Rights During — and After — Recovery
While you may face potential legal issues after rehab, the law is generally on your side. If you face discrimination while you are sober and in recovery, consider consulting with an attorney who handles discrimination matters.
Buena Vista Recovery is committed to helping people battle — and overcome — their addictions, so they can get on with the rest of their lives. To learn more about how we help people and to start the intake process, contact us today.