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So, if alcoholism is an illness, can I call in drunk/sick to work on Monday?

Wow, several issues here. Occasionally you may be too drunk and drugged, sick and hung-over or in withdrawal to phone in, or to recognize that it is Monday morning. Next, many people do call in sick on Monday morning, and many employers take note of not just the number of absences that an employee has, but the times and days. Many employers also have policies in place which require a call by a certain time, so they can fill the shift or cover that position. Additionally, many employers require a medical note for an absence of more than a certain amount of time or number of days.

Drug abuse and drug dependence are indeed illnesses. However, the spirit of your question speaks to the manipulative tendencies of someone still using. Ideally, if you were going to call in sick, my sincere hope and strong recommendation would be to have someone qualified to write a medical leave of absence for you. That leave should be for the express purpose of obtaining the level of chemical dependency treatment needed in your specific case, and not for more of the same pattern. Many times, an outpatient treatment program within the community can be effective and allow you to keep your job. There are specific legal issues regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it is not legal for employers to discriminate based on the fact that someone has addiction as an illness, if it is not preventing them from performing their job duties. However, specific legal advice from an attorney familiar with any updates in Federal and State law would be needed, as the specific issues of your own situation will help determine the answers for you. There are fewer protections for ongoing use of illegal drugs. It is most assuredly legal, proper, and to be expected that the employer can impose warnings or fire based on absenteeism, lateness, specific work place behaviors, and the like. Some of the hostility, paranoia, and inconsistencies which are present with active addiction are the very things that employers find impossible to tolerate. So, do yourself a favor, and take the time to prevent the need to call in drunk. Watch some of the WYNK flash videos which pertain to your situation. Call now for help in your community.

by: Lois Cochrane Schlutter, Ph.D. L.P.

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