Fighting Back Against Addiction Discrimination

December 30, 2010

As difficult as it may be to believe, there are still those who discriminate against men and women living with addiction or in recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism. Uninformed, pre-conceived notions about addiction lead these individuals to shun the recovering addict or, in some cases, preclude them from keeping or obtaining a job. If you have been through rehab, and feel as if you are now being discriminated against as a result, here is a brief guide on what you can do to fight back.

Informal Resolution When Discrimination Occurs

Sometimes the best course of action is to talk to the individual who you believe has discriminated against you as a result of your addiction history. This will give you an opportunity to confirm that past drug or alcohol use is indeed the reason why you are not getting a particular job. It will also allow you to talk openly and honestly about what you have been through -and stress the many positive qualifications you bring to the position.

Administrative Appeals Against Addiction Discrimination

If you have reason to believe that a government office or association has discriminated against you as a result of your addiction history, you may be entitled to an administrative appeal and a hearing. Those government offices that often hear these types of appeals include:

  • Public housing agencies
  • Government benefit programs
  • City or state employers

Formal Legal Challenges to Discrimination

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals who have, or have overcome an addiction to drugs or alcohol. This is a federal law -and if you feel that it has been violated, you may be able to charge the offenders legally. In the process, you may be able to get the company or institution to provide restitution, change their policies or provide other forms of relief.

It is Important to Act Quickly!

There is a deadline associated with filing complaints such as those discussed above. In many cases, this may be as soon as 180 days after the occurrence of discrimination. Deadlines vary, so check with the city, state or federal court in question if you feel that you have been wronged.

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