Can you fire someone for relapsing?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can you fire someone for relapsing?

A gal was hired with little relative experience, worked for 3 days, then relapsed and told us outright. She even said she was coming back down when she showed up. She is not in rehab. Can we fire her for illegal drug use after hours?

Asked on August 22, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You cannot terminate her for off-premises drug use because being an addict is considered a disability, and the law bans discriminating against people in employment due to their medical conditions. Firing her for using drugs IF her use does not impact work (see below) is seem as similar to firing someone for being a diabetic.
BUT if she uses drugs at work or is intoxicated/high at work, or misses work due to drug use, you can terminate her. In that case, you are not terminating her because of her condition or disability--her addiction--but because of behavior directly impacting job performance, workplace productivity, and possibly safety.

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