Can a supervisor tell you that you need to stop taking a prescribed medication?

UPDATED: Dec 14, 2011

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Can a supervisor tell you that you need to stop taking a prescribed medication?

In my most recent position I was taking a prescribed medication that has drowsiness as a side effect. I had been on this medicine for over a year and my boss knew that drowsiness was a side effect, but it only effected my work once. One day the drowsiness was particularly bad, so I was dismissed from work. I just needed to get a note from my doctor explaining it was a side effect, including suggestions on how to help the side effect. The note was provided and there were no problems with going back to work. However, when I returned 2 of my supervisors told me I should stop taking my medicine.

Asked on December 14, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the medication is affecting your work--for example, being drowsy affects either your output or your quality of work, or, potentially, safety (e.g. if you operate equipment, drive, etc. for work)--then your supervisors are entiled to tell you that unless you correct the situation--that is, unless you are no longer drowsy at work--they will terminate you. So in that regard, they are not necessarily telling you to stop taking the medicine; they are letting you know that coming to work drowsy for any reason is not acceptable. If you choose to not heed their advice, they may terminate you--not for the medication per se, but for being drowsy, with impaired performance, at work.

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