Can a company be sued if they don’t hire a prior substance abuser?

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Can a company be sued if they don’t hire a prior substance abuser?

They successfully completed a rehab program.

Asked on January 13, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No they cannot.  The reason is that most employment relationships are what is known as "at will"; meaning that you can choose to work for an employer or not, and an employer can hire or fire you for any reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all.  While seemingly unfair it's the law.

The exceptions to the above would be if this action violated company policy or a union agreement.  Also, discrimination must not have played a role in your termination; in other words you must be in protected class to have legal recourse for a non-hire.  Employment discrimination is based on reasons having to do with age, race, religion, gender, and the like.  Being a recovered substance abuser does not put you in such a protected class. 

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No they cannot.  The reason is that most employment relationships are what is known as "at will"; meaning that you can choose to work for an employer or not, and an employer can hire or fire you for any reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all.  While seemingly unfair it's the law.

The exceptions to the above would be if this action violated company policy or a union agreement.  Also, discrimination must not have played a role in your termination; in other words you must be in protected class to have legal recourse for a non-hire.  Employment discrimination is based on reasons having to do with age, race, religion, gender, and the like.  Being a recovered substance abuser does not put you in such a protected class. 


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