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Florida Unemployment Compensation - Detox = Disability?

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  • Florida Unemployment Compensation - Detox = Disability?

    FACTS:

    Small Florida medical office 5-to-7 employees. Employee (over 15 months) calls in to say they will not be reporting in on schedule, instead, is checking into a drug rehab clinic, asks employer to keep job open for them.

    Employer says that is not possible, too small, insufficient number of staff to hold the job open. Plus, issue of drug abuse -- prescription or otherwise -- is a problem in an ATF-regulated environment.

    Employer does not have a written employee policy manual nor has expressly set itself up as drug-free workplace.

    Employee is now seeking unemployment benefits, asserting that employer is compelled to provide 'medical leave' for detox.

    After hearing, Unemployment commission is granting benefits.

    QUESTION(S)

    Under the Fla. Statutes and Federal FMLA provisions that I am aware of, employer is not a covered employer (less than 50 employees), nor is former employee an 'eligible employee' in that they did not provide 30 days advance notice, and the unemployment was entirely voluntary on their part.

    *** Is drug rehab. given special treatment in some manner, such as being
    deemed a 'disability' under the ADA??? *****

    *** Is there some other provision of Florida or Federal Law which justifies the decision handed down by the Unemployment Commission? ****

    Thank you,

    Jurist

  • #2
    Unemployment Decision

    As you said, FMLA does not apply to employers of less than 50 employees in a 75 mile radius. Further, there is nothing in federal or state law which requires an employer to pay for detox unless that benefit is provided through a medical plan offered to its employees. Even then, the benefit is dependent upon the terms and conditions of the plan.

    A user of illegal drugs may be covered by ADA IF they are or have gone through drug rehab; that they have not used drugs in a while to the point where the employer has a reasonable belief that drug use is not on-going; and the drug use was addictive, rather than casual drug use. However, keep in mind that ADA only applies to employers of 15 employees or more. Florida does not have its own version. Therefore, ADA is not applicable to this situation.

    I don't believe that the decision makes any sense. Florida says that unemployment is only available to persons who are out of work through no fault of their own. As an example, it does not cover pregnant women out on maternity leave. My guess is that not all of the facts were presented in the initial hearing. For example, did the employer participate in the hearing. Perhaps the employer should file an appeal.
    Last edited by LConnell; 03-10-2005, 05:42 PM.
    Lillian Connell

    Forum Moderator
    www.laborlawtalk.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks Lil.

      I suspected as much by gut feeling, but having dealt with the ADA before, I was aware that there may be a little-known but hare-brained provision out there that would give the former employee the right to do what they did.

      It seems there also have been a series of decisions and modifications that reduce the absurd results you were getting when the ADA first came out (e.g. requirement for wheelchair access to employees' showers in a strip joint, etc..).

      My first reaction would have been to place the burden on the former employee in identifying the provision that allows them to do what they are asserting, however, the commission seems to have gone along with it and I must impress upon my friends the need to respond within the 20 day deadline.

      Thanks again.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by jurist
        Employee is now seeking unemployment benefits, asserting that employer is compelled to provide 'medical leave' for detox.

        After hearing, Unemployment commission is granting benefits.

        QUESTION(S)

        Under the Fla. Statutes and Federal FMLA provisions that I am aware of, employer is not a covered employer (less than 50 employees), nor is former employee an 'eligible employee' in that they did not provide 30 days advance notice, and the unemployment was entirely voluntary on their part.

        *** Is drug rehab. given special treatment in some manner, such as being
        deemed a 'disability' under the ADA??? *****

        *** Is there some other provision of Florida or Federal Law which justifies the decision handed down by the Unemployment Commission? ****
        Remember, just because the employer may have been justified in terminating the employee does NOT mean the employee will be disqualified for benefits. Even if the employee was wrong about the compulsory medical leave (and i do believe the employee was wrong) he or she may still be eligible for benefits unless:
        1. voluntarily quit, or
        2. terminated for misconduct.

        Leaving work due to illness (which probably includes drug addiction) is usually not considered a voluntary quit by AWI. So it would seem that this employee would be eligible for benefits in most cases.

        Mike

        Comment


        • #5
          Mike, did you notice the date of this post? It's unlikely the OP is coming back for further information a year-and-a-half later.
          I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Pattymd
            Mike, did you notice the date of this post? It's unlikely the OP is coming back for further information a year-and-a-half later.
            I did but others may find it via Google. Even if the OP isn't coming back, others searching for answers to similar questions may find it helpful to have additional information.

            Comment


            • #7
              Nonetheless, we have had problems in the past when posts have been reopened. As a result, I ask that people not post to dormant threads unless you either are the original poster coming back with an update or have a question (not a comment) about the law being discussed.

              Thank you for understanding.
              The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

              Comment


              • #8
                This post is 2 1/2 years old. Why did you post on it?
                Please no private messages about your situation.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Because he was trying to advertise the program in question. The link has been deleted.
                  The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Old Thread

                    I'm glad the poster revived this old thread.

                    I had the 3-way phone call last week with the employee and the unemployment rep.

                    I caught this employee smoking marijuana on the job, heard her bad mouthing me and my business to customers, and found out after her dismissal that she was stealing!

                    I presented all of the facts professionally, calmly and cooly. I'm a retired police officer. I'm comfortable giving testimony. In fact, in my 15 years on the job, I never lost a criminal case.

                    The employees defense was laughable, and I easily discredited each of her two biased witnesses.

                    I still lost! This woman is working two other jobs and drawing undemployment against me.

                    What's with the State of Florida????

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Start your own thread with your question.
                      Please no private messages about your situation.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        He was trolling I think.
                        Last edited by cbg; 03-02-2008, 04:17 AM.
                        drug statistics

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mquick7 View Post
                          He was trolling I think.
                          And you? Why are you posting your link on an old thread?
                          Please no private messages about your situation.

                          Comment

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