What are an employee’s rights regarding taking pain medication at work?

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What are an employee’s rights regarding taking pain medication at work?

My husband has been on his job now for 5 years when he was hired he let them know that he was on chronic pain medicine due to the cancer and the radiation. They tell him today he is no longer allowed to take is medicine at work and if they think he is taking it he will have to take a drug test and if he has it in his system he will be fired. His medications are a 12 hour time release pill so even if he would take them after his shift they will still be in system. Why this was even brought up after all this time he has never had any on job accidents from his medications or other wise. We don’t understand why the have gotten corporate involved in this and why he is being harassed now he doesn’t want to be at work and he feels as if they are singling him out when he isn’t the only one there on pain medication.

Asked on August 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Your husband should speak with an employment law attorney. The law requires companies to make "reasonable accomodations" for employees with disabilities; it may be that the employer needs to allow your husband to take his pain medication. The key issue will likely be whether the medication makes it unsafe for your husband to do his job, or else so impairs his performance that it is not "reasonable" to require the employer to let him  to work while on it--this is a very fact-specific inquiry, and one that  your husband needs to discuss in detail with an attorney. If it turns out that he can do his job safely while on the medication, most likely, the employer will need to let him continue to take it.


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