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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Can a recovering alcoholic, (almost 11 yrs of sobriety), be

Customer Question

Can a recovering alcoholic, (almost 11 yrs of sobriety), be eligible for FMLA?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Good evening and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question. Is the FMLA leave needed for treatment related to alcoholism? How long has this employee been employed with this particular employer, and approximately how many employees does the company have? I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Employed for 27 years - I have been sober for almost 11 years but am worried about a "slip" - hours required where I work are very demanding - 11 hour days and quite often 6 day work weeks
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 months ago.
Thank you. FMLA is available for "serious health conditions," defined as medical conditions which require inpatient care (i.e. an overnight hospital stay) or continuing treatment by a health care provider. So, for example, if you needed time off to check into a rehab facility, that would typically be covered under the FMLA because it would be "continuing treatment." However, time off to simply decompress on your own would not be covered under the FMLA, as your health condition would not, at this point in time, qualify as a serious health condition. You cannot "preemptively" take FMLA for a condition that has not yet manifested. Now, alcoholism also qualifies as a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Under the ADA, employers must "reasonably accommodate" disabling medical conditions. So, if you could get your doctor to recommend that you take time off work to prevent a relapse, your employer would have an obligation to "reasonably accommodate" that need. This means they would have to allow you to take the time off work unless they could prove that doing so will cause the company to suffer undue hardship. Perhaps this would be your best bet. It seems more appropriate than FMLA if you are not taking time off for actual rehab. I hope this answers your question. I wish you the best in resolving this matter. Kind regards, Patrick

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