EEOC Releases Opioid Addiction Accommodation Guidelines

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released technical guidance earlier this month that may require employers to provide accommodation for workers who are addicted to opioids to remain in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

HR Dive’s Katie Cleary reports that the technical guidance, released on August 5th, makes it illegal for employers to disqualify applicants for opioid use if the use of these drugs is legal.  According to the guidance, as long as a worker can do their job safely and effectively, then an accommodation must be made. 

The EEOC also said that shift assignment changes or temporary and position transfers might be used as part of the accommodation for workers who are taking opioids legally.

However, even with this latest guidance from the EEOC, employers are not required to lower standards for production or performance for a worker who has been prescribed opioids.  Employers are also not required to pay for work that is not performed, or in any way, “excuse illegal drug use on the job as a reasonable accommodation.”

The EEOC also released guidance for doctors and other healthcare professionals to help workers stay employed while being treated with opioids.  

The federal agency’s guidance may be due to a recent survey which indicated that three-quarters of those surveyed by the National Safety Council last year stated that they had been directly affected by the opioid crisis.  Clarey advises that HR professionals can help both their organizations and workers by coming up with strategies to help address the problem. One possible solution is to examine current organization healthcare and benefits packages that may help those workers get the kind of help that they need.