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  • Labor Law/Medical/Addiction? New York

    The main question is in the last paragraph if you don't want to read through the background info.

    I have Celiac disease for at least 11 years. It went undiagnosed for 10 of those years. During the time I was undiagnosed the doctors prescribed hydrocodone medication for pain. I was and still am receiving SSD for the illness. However the doctor cut me off of the hydrocodone after I was diagnosed. I do not get the abdominal as I use to but since I had celiac for so long and it went undiagnosed my central nervous system is destroyed. My hands and feet shake plus I have a twiching issue. The only way to stop the twiching and shaking that I know of is to take hydrocodone or benzodiazpines. Since the benzo's knock me out I take the hydrocodone it a moderate form just so I can get to work and minimize the tremors and twitching.

    I just started my job a month ago. I love my job and I want to be a productive person. I am well educated and a hard worker. The problem is though that I still go through bouts of trenors regardless of the medicine. With the medicine it's "minimized" wherein without the meds I can't even hold a pencil which makes it impossible to work. The issue comes in when I go through bouts my employer has made it clear that they think I have a drug problem even though I explained I have celiac disease. They probably see that my pupils do not dialate properly. The employer is not far from the truth though: i do have a problem...what their wrong about is that the tremors get WAY worse when I am off the medication.

    So I am in a catch 22 here: If I come off the medicine I loose the job due to the tremors (my current doctor prescibes only inderol due to the fact I had an issue with the hydrocodone which doesn't work for me,) if I stay on the medicine I lose the job because they think I have a drug problem and will find reason to fire me eventually.

    Here is I want to do and wondering about the legalities of it: I want to go into HR and tell them basically what I just posted here. I hope they will give me a week off to go into detox and get this taking care of. While I am in detox I am hopeing to get a doctor to find something that works for my tremors. I am wondering can I be fired if I go in and tell them I have an issue? Keep in mind I have only had the job for a month. Basically, what are my legal options here?

    Thank you,

    ADDENDIUM: My employer did say they are undertanding towards such things as long as the employee tells them and seeks help. I am just worried that they will not be willing to work with me since I just started working there. So need to know the legalities.
    Last edited by TimyTidBit; 10-26-2010, 04:32 AM.

  • #2
    Well, you have only been there a month, so FMLA doesn't apply.

    I know several people who have celiac disease, and it CAN be a condition that would qualify under the ADA. Every case must be looked at individually, but I know from my friends' experience that it does impact a "major life function" and it can take quite a while to find the right meds and doses.

    Having said the above, and assuming the ADA applies, now the question becomes the following. Would a week off 1) allow you to return and perform the essential functions of your job, and 2) is a week off for a brand new employee a "reasonable accommodation" on the employer's part? The employer does not have to allow you to work under the influence of drugs if they affect your performance.

    Personally, I'm not convinced that 1) a week off in detox will solve the problem and 2) that a week off for an employee who has been there only a month is "reasonable". But this is the issue the employer will have to decide.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
      Well, you have only been there a month, so FMLA doesn't apply.

      I know several people who have celiac disease, and it CAN be a condition that would qualify under the ADA. Every case must be looked at individually, but I know from my friends' experience that it does impact a "major life function" and it can take quite a while to find the right meds and doses.

      Having said the above, and assuming the ADA applies, now the question becomes the following. Would a week off 1) allow you to return and perform the essential functions of your job, and 2) is a week off for a brand new employee a "reasonable accommodation" on the employer's part? The employer does not have to allow you to work under the influence of drugs if they affect your performance.

      Personally, I'm not convinced that 1) a week off in detox will solve the problem and 2) that a week off for an employee who has been there only a month is "reasonable". But this is the issue the employer will have to decide.
      Thanks for the reply Pattymd. I am not sure what ADA is or how it applies? American with disabilities act? I am legaly a disabled person since I do receive SSD. Technicaly I don't have to work, I just very much want to work.

      Yes I think a week of is very reasonable if my employer allows it and two I do think it is enough time for me to detox since I am, relatively speaking, not in bad shape. Since my appropriate diet I am physicaly healthy except for the tremors and twich's and the occational gluten intake mistake. I am just not sure if the Dr's in detox would be willing to assist with the celiac tremors and if they are would a week be enough time?

      Technicaly speaking the drugs do not decrease my performance since my hands may not cooperate otherwise. So far my performance has been good except for in the early morning when the tremors are at their worst. Sometimes, off of drugs, I have no tremors, most of the time I have only minimal tremors. Often the tremors will get very bad when I do not eat, am tired, in a stressful or aggressive position and if I am nervous which is the worst because the tremors turns and nervous situation into a dire situation where I just want to escape.

      Addendum: If I understand you correctly your saying that I should go into HR and tell them I need to take a week off due to the celiac disease to properly adjust my medications to minimize the tremors so that my request falls under the ADA and "reasonable accomidations?"
      Last edited by TimyTidBit; 10-26-2010, 05:16 AM. Reason: Addendum

      Comment


      • #4
        Yes, it is the Americans with Disabilities Act.

        What you want to do is request the leave as an accommodation under the ADA. The employer does not have to take your word for it, however. He is allowed to request information from your doctor before before rendering a decision.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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        • #5
          I would suggest speaking to your doctor before going to HR.

          If your doctor does not agree with your approach then you will need to consider your options before speaking with HR.

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          • #6
            Agree with HRinMA. Besides, the employer is the one who decides what a "reasonable accommodation" is for them. They don't have to agree with you, or even with your doctor, as to what is "reasonable".
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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            • #7
              Well I guess it's worth a try, considering that it seems I'll lose the job either way. At least this way I am at least giving it a shot. I think I should do it first thing tomorrow morning because I had to take the day off because I have a cold and didnt get much sleep...when I am fatigued the tremors & tweaks are at their worst. The point I am making is that I will not have time to see my doctor. Though if they want a notice from the Dr it shouldnt be a problem getting it before I go into the hospital.

              I would like to confirm though that my approach should be time off due to celiac and medications for celiac to reduce my tremors and tweaks not an addiction issue, correct? I would feel more comfortable with that and it is most appropriate because the Celiac is the true root cause.

              Comment


              • #8
                I am unclear on an issue. Do you have a drug problem or it is the side effects from drugs you take to control your celiac? If you have side effects, are you taking the drugs in a manner perscribed by your doctor?

                If you do not have a drug problem then you should not claim one with your job.

                You need your doctor to back you up if the company wants written proof of why you need the time off, that is why it is important to be on the same page with your doctor.

                If the company thinks you are lying or not being totally honest, then the company may not be too helpful.

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                • #9
                  It seems like he's saying that he is taking the meds as directed, but that he has become physically addicted to them. Hydrocodone is highly addictive. People often end up being prescribed higher or more frequent doses in reaction to withdrawal symptoms they experience when their blood levels dip. Some doctors inadvertantly increase the risk of addiction by not monitoring this closely, or by not taking the time, or having the time to explore other treatment options.

                  OP, as long as you are taking the meds as directed and not abusing them, I would not frame this as an addiction issue, but as a "side effects from prescribed meds" issue. Make it clear that you are on a prescribed treatment for a bona fide disability (recognized by SSA since you are getting SSDI) and the side effects (physical dependence and tremors) are interfering with your functioning, and you are seeking treatment to change the meds.

                  Addiction does, for better or for worse, carry a stigma, and treatment for addiction is viewed differently from other medical conditions (by SSA, by federal and state laws, by insurers).

                  I wish you well! Much of my career has been spent helping people on disability get back into the workforce--it's so much better for the individual's well being and for society as a whole.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Wait a minute. You're receiving SSDI AND working?
                    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by HRinMA View Post
                      I am unclear on an issue. Do you have a drug problem or it is the side effects from drugs you take to control your celiac? If you have side effects, are you taking the drugs in a manner perscribed by your doctor?

                      If you do not have a drug problem then you should not claim one with your job.

                      You need your doctor to back you up if the company wants written proof of why you need the time off, that is why it is important to be on the same page with your doctor.

                      If the company thinks you are lying or not being totally honest, then the company may not be too helpful.
                      Honestly I do have an issue though it's due to the Celiac so it's two issues really. I take about 4-6 tabs a day and I do suffer from w/d if I stop abruptly. However it's not bad enough that I cannot get through it...I just need the time and simply don't have it. Id be more than happy to stay off them if I can solve the shaking issue because it makes me very dull and dependant which of the number I like neither. I don't see why the Dr would be unwilling to help but I have not scheduled an appointment as of yet...one of the factors is prescription costs....I was going to hold off till december in which I would have decent coverage. I was paying up to a thousand a month for my scripts at one point...I simply cannot afford it.

                      So I am not sure what to do here? I guess just go in and explain the situation honestly and hope for the best?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
                        Wait a minute. You're receiving SSDI AND working?
                        With SSD you can recieve your SSD + salary for up to 14 months. I do report it.

                        EDIT: kind of not the point of this post.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TSCompliance View Post
                          It seems like he's saying that he is taking the meds as directed, but that he has become physically addicted to them. Hydrocodone is highly addictive. People often end up being prescribed higher or more frequent doses in reaction to withdrawal symptoms they experience when their blood levels dip. Some doctors inadvertantly increase the risk of addiction by not monitoring this closely, or by not taking the time, or having the time to explore other treatment options.

                          OP, as long as you are taking the meds as directed and not abusing them, I would not frame this as an addiction issue, but as a "side effects from prescribed meds" issue. Make it clear that you are on a prescribed treatment for a bona fide disability (recognized by SSA since you are getting SSDI) and the side effects (physical dependence and tremors) are interfering with your functioning, and you are seeking treatment to change the meds.

                          Addiction does, for better or for worse, carry a stigma, and treatment for addiction is viewed differently from other medical conditions (by SSA, by federal and state laws, by insurers).

                          I wish you well! Much of my career has been spent helping people on disability get back into the workforce--it's so much better for the individual's well being and for society as a whole.
                          No, in honest: I am not taking them via a prescription. Though I am only taking them primarily at this point to mask the tremors. I was prescribed them, originaly, for pain when I was suffering from severe intestinal/stomach pains but I was taken off them when I was diagnosed correctly with celiac. Even though the pain is reduced with proper diet the tremors will never go away and only get worse.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TimyTidBit View Post
                            No, in honest: I am not taking them via a prescription. Though I am only taking them primarily at this point to mask the tremors. I was prescribed them, originaly, for pain when I was suffering from severe intestinal/stomach pains but I was taken off them when I was diagnosed correctly with celiac. Even though the pain is reduced with proper diet the tremors will never go away and only get worse.
                            Then the question would be, is a week enough to handle both withdrawal from the drug and finding a cure for the tremors?

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TimyTidBit View Post
                              With SSD you can recieve your SSD + salary for up to 14 months. I do report it.

                              EDIT: kind of not the point of this post.
                              Fine, but don't berate me for questioning it.
                              I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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