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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I am a recovering alcoholic/addict. Does my employer need

Customer Question

I am a recovering alcoholic/addict. Does my employer need to accomodate working hours based on restrictions by my professional licensing board (pharmacy)?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question.

An employer in the circumstance you describe may very well need to accommodate an employee who is a recovering alcoholic and addict. This is because people with past drug or alcohol problems are protected from job discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as are persons with current alcohol problems who are able to perform their job. The only individuals with drug and alcohol problems who do not have the same rights as others with disabilities are those who currently use drugs illegally. An employer must have 15 or more employees to be subject to the Act.

What this means is that your employer (assuming he or she has 15 or more employees) needs to provide a "reasonable accommodation" for your disability and must engage in an "interactive process" with you to determine whether a reasonable accommodation can be achieved.

One potential issue with the circumstance you describe, however, is that there is a problem with your professional license--a problem over which an employer likely has no control. If you simply can't work because you lack the license, it would be arguable that no reasonable accommodation can be achieved because, quite simply, your employer would be breaking licensing laws by allowing you to come back to work.

This will come down to how long you will be out of a license and what amount of time would be "reasonable" to force your employer to wait. In summary, though, YES, an employee may very well be required to accommodate an individual in the circumstance you describe.

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the very best of luck. Bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Please abide by the honor code of this website by kindly clicking on the GREEN ACCEPT button if my answer has been helpful to you. Thank you very much.

Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your quick reply; here is some more info that may help you with the advice you are giving me:
My license is currently valid; however, I am on probation. I am currently working (at a large hospital) and have been there for over 3 years. I am required by the board of pharmacy (since last July) to have "worksite monitor(s)" with whom my shifts must overlap by at least 17.5 hours per two week pay period. All was well until one of the monitors quit. I work nights and had told my supervisor months ago that I wanted off this shift for numerous reasons. He said I had to wait until a day/evening shift became available and then I could apply. An evening shift became available recently, which would have given me adequate 'overlap' time with another pharmacist. I applied, but the shift was given to a "temp", who had only been at the hospital for 3 months. His status has now changed to a full time employee, but he refuses to agree to be a worksite monitor for me. As an aside, I think that I was not given this evening shift for three reasons. First, because it is very difficult to recruit for the night position. Secondly, one of the three persons (the primary decision maker) on the "peer committee" who interviewed me has had "issues" with me in the past. Thirdly, if I go off the night shift, then other pharmacists (e.g., those on the 'peer committee') would have to cover those undesirable hours. Another person (the ONLY possibility under the current circumstances) has agreed to be a worksite monitor for me, but I would still be short
five hours. The board of pharmacy may tell me I can no longer work at this job if I can't come up with the required 17.5 hours. They are aware of the situation, but no final decision has been reached yet. I have communicated with human resources my displeasure with having been "passed over" for the evening position and hope to meet with them soon (I made the request for a meeting and/or explanation last Friday). If, by some miracle, HR reviews the selection process by the peer committee and overturns their decision and gives me the position, that would be great. But, assuming that doesn't happen, I was considering explaining to them that without this position I desire and because of the restrictions placed on me by the board of pharmacy, secondarily (in a sense), to my addiction (I have been in treatment for this, etc.) I could be forced to lose my job. So, what do you think?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.



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Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
For some reason I did not receive your reply until you just sent your most recent message. I apologize for the delay.

I "just answer" questions about the law. I cannot provide you with legal advice or tell you what to do or say. I hope that's okay.

"Reasonable accommodations" refers to reasonable accommodations for the difficulties that your disability imposes on your ability to do your job. For example, allowing you time off so that you can attend AA meetings would be a reasonable accommodation for alcoholism and addiction.

As you state, these conditions were placed on you "secondarily (in a sense), to my addiction." These conditions do not arise as a direct consequence of your addiction in the same way as the need to attend AA classes or rehab stems from an addition. For this reason, it's questionable that an employer would be required to accommodate your request under the ADA.