Opioid crisis & the ADA: HR's growing risk.

Record-low unemployment means it's getting harder to find qualified workers. Another factor making hiring more difficult: The ongoing opioid addiction crisis means more recovering addicts are among the scarce pool of applicants.

Do you know whether (and how) you must accommodate these people?

Current illegal drug use is not protected under the ADA, so you can (and should) just say no to people who fail drug tests. However, recovering addicts are considered disabled under the ADA. That means you can't discriminate against them in hiring and must offer "reasonable accommodations" to allow them to perform the essential functions of the job.

Recent case: The EEOC just filed an ADA lawsuit against an employer for refusing to hire recovering addicts. Appalachian Wood Products in Pennsylvania had a rule that barred applicants from some positions if they are taking prescription medications for drug-addiction treatment, such as methadone or suboxone. The EEOC said the company applied the policy indiscriminately, without considering whether the medications would actually impair applicants' ability to perform a job safely.

The ADA requires employers to assess each disabled worker's disability on an...

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