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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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Prescription pain killer

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If I have a valid prescription for a pain killer, and have to take a pre-employment drug screen, will that prevent me from getting the job? This is in Illinois

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will do everything I can to answer your question.

The answer here is "it depends." The American With Disabilities Act prevents employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities (defined as conditions which "significantly impair a major life function"). However, employers have no obligation to hire applicants who cannot safely and effectively perform the essential duties of the position, regardless of whether or not they're disabled.

That is to say, assuming the condition for which you are taking pain medication is a disability, your employer would be prohibited from discriminating against you on the basis of you taking that medication unless the medication interferes with your ability to safely and effectively perform your job. If you need to take the pain medication during times you would be working, you could likely be denied the job on that basis, since pain medications can impair judgment and delay reaction times.

Ideally, you would want a letter from your physician asserting that you will not be and have no need to be taking this medication during working hours, OR that the medication is of such a kind that will not impair your ability to safely and effectively peform your job even when taken during working hours. With such a letter, your prospective employer has no basis to deny you employment on the basis of your medication since it's been confirmed that the medication doesn't impair your ability to work. To deny an employee a job due to medication they're taking for a disability that doesn't impact their work would amount to a violation of the ADA, giving rise to a claim for damages.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes and kindest regards.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So when I take the drug screen at the clinic and provide them with the rx for prescription, will they notify the employer, or will the drug test go back to the employer as passed, because I have a prescription? I have heard conflicting answers, that's why I figured I would go directly here.

Generally speaking, the fact you present a prescription doesn't mean that a prescription opiate detected during a blood test won't be reported to your employer. It will, that's the drug testing company's job, but with the prescription and a note from your physician indicating that it won't impair your ability to work the employer cannot deny you the position on this basis.
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