Can an employer termanate me for the medications I take?

I have worked at my company almost 20 years. I am prescribed pain medication from my doctor and have been on this same medication about 12-13 years. I was injured at work due to someone else’s negligence. Now my employer is hinting around that I may not be able to return to work because of the medicine I am prescribed. It was never an issue before. It feel’s like they are trying to make me look bad so that they don’t.

Asked on June 16, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You cannot be terminated for the underlying condition or for a legal prescription. You can be terminated if the presecription:
1) Is for medical marijuana and you bring it to or use it at work--even when legal for medical purposes under some states' laws, it is illegal under federal law, and the employer does not need to allow illegal substances at work.
2) The prescription makes it dangerous for you to do your job (e.g. you operate machinery that should *not* be operated while using this medication)--the employer does not need to accept the risk of liability involved.
3) The prescription has impaired you at work--you would be terminated not for the condition  or the prescription, but for being impaired (not being productive, or making mistakes, or having disruptive behavior) at work.

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