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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Ciarrocchi

Can I Get Fired For Going To Rehab?

When someone is suffering from addiction, more than likely, they are entirely unable to stop abusing the substance of their choice on their own. Life becomes unmanageable in many ways; work performance drops, and families are affected. At this point, many would agree that this is a sign that substance abuse rehab may be the best option for you.

The first thought for some may be:

  • I can’t take off work. My boss will fire me!

  • I cannot let my employer know I am going to rehab!

  • I would be too embarrassed if people found out I was in rehab!

These are the two most common worries amongst individuals who need rehab but are horrified by the possibility of losing their job or having their private issues relayed to their employer, etc.

This article will discuss how you are protected from being fired and how your information is protected under "The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)."

can a job fire you for going to rehab
Source: LA Valley Recovery

Can You Get Fired For Going To Rehab?

The fear of being fired for going to rehab is a familiar feeling for those contemplating the decision to get treatment.

The U.S Department of Labor has acts in place to protect America’s employees. Such as The Family and Medical Leave Act and The Americans With Disabilities Act. They are put in place for employees asking, “Can I get fired for going to rehab?”

If you’re worried about the specifics of their leave being relayed to other individuals at work, this is where HIPAA comes into play.

The Health Insurance Portability Act (HIPAA) protects all confidential Protected Health Information (PHI) unless otherwise requested by the individual directly.

What Is The Family and Medical Leave Act?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was designed to provide employees up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave each year. According to the U.S Department of Labor, some of the situations covered by FMLA include the following:

  • For the birth and care of a newborn child of an employee;

  • For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;

  • To care for an immediate family member (i.e., spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or

  • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition

If you are an employee needing treatment for substance abuse and/or mental health disorders but are asking yourself, “Can I get fired for going to rehab?” then you don’t need to worry because you meet the requirements of FMLA; you are protected!

can you get unemployment for substance abuse
Source: LA Valley Recovery

What Is The Americans With Disabilities Act?

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was implemented to prohibit discrimination against those with various disabilities in the workplace. ADA covers organizations with more than 15 employees.

This act protects individuals with various disabilities from discrimination in the workplace and is enforced by the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If discrimination occurs due to going to treatment for substance abuse, charges can be filed with the EEOC against the employer for discrimination.

Is There An Eligibility Requirement?

Some requirements must be met to qualify for FMLA and ADA. Some are very specific, and others are left up to the medical necessity of the individual based on the DSM-5 criteria.

Based on the information provided by, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as DSM-5-TR, is the most current criteria for mental health disorder diagnosis. The DSM-5 criteria are used as a provider of common ground and a clear line of communication between clients and their assigned clinicians.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

FMLA was designed to encourage balance in the workplace by allowing a certain amount of time each year for reasonable unpaid leave per year for family and medical issues. This act protects employees, but there are a few requirements.

  • Must have worked at current job for a minimum of 12 months

  • Must have worked 1,250 hours at the current job if employment is less than 12 months

Provisions to FMLA were put in place in 2008 that are specific to the needs of Military families.

The Americans With Disabilities Act

  • One must have a disability

  • A person with a history of such impairment

  • A person who is perceived by others to have such impairment

The ADA does not explicitly name all impairments covered and will require documentation from a medical provider confirming the individual's impairment.

can you get unemployment for addiction
Source: LA Valley Recovery

Is There Protection Against Being Fired For Going To Rehab?

Both FMLA and ADA protect employees against being fired for attending inpatient rehabilitation. The Americans With Disabilities Act protects those in addiction recovery from being fired for seeking treatment for substance abuse. If you feel that you are being discriminated against due to your substance abuse issue, you can file discrimination charges against your employer through the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Building a new life in recovery is an intimidating mountain to climb when there are so many factors to worry about. The opportunity to get the help you need is at your fingertips. So if you’re sitting there thinking, “Can’t I get fired for going to rehab?” just remember that you are protected by The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as well as The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).


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