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PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 5:13 pm 
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I've been on Suboxone/Subutex for the last 8 years under the same Doctors care the entire time. I initially took it for opiate dependency but I now use it for pain management as well. I've been working graveyards at a residential treatment facility for the last 2 1/2 years. I was never asked to disclose what medication I'm on. A few weeks ago I had a few sub pills left in my RX bottle in my purse at work. I keep my purse in a cupboard behind my desk which is also behind a closed employee counter. I'm alone during the graveyard shift (my boss, the owner, goes to his private room to sleep when I arrive). I wasn't aware that the following had happened at the time: so, a few weeks ago at work, I had stepped away from my desk to help a client who was having some personal problems. While I was engaged with this client, another client snuck out of their room, went behind the counter, found my purse & stole all the sub pills in the bottle. I didn't realize they were missing for two days & I wasn't sure where or when it'd happened. So last week at work my boss confronted me & informed me that a client had confessed in group & to their therapist that they'd stolen subs from my purse. I know this is really long, please bear with me. I was told that the clients parents had found out & called upset that their child had relapsed in our care & had gotten the pills from an employee. He STOLE them, but that wasn't acknowledged. I left work very upset with the understanding I not come back until we'd talked more about what would happen. I met with my boss a few days later & was given an ultimatum: I would be put on "paid leave" until Jan.1st of 2014 & in that time would need to taper off of sub & come back completely off of it. I was also told that they couldn't have an employee work there who is on a controlled substance. Again, I was never asked what medication I was on nor did i sign anything regarding what medication I could or couldn't be on. I don't think they could legally ask me anyway as far as I know. I was given several UA's while employed there & they were always negative. When I was tested for buprenorphine it was negative because I hadn't been taking it daily at that particular time. If I had tested positive I would have gladly shown them my prescription. After my boss explained the ultimatum, I explained to him that I take it for pain management & was under my Dr's care & on a very specific treatment plan that had worked well for me for 8 years. I also explained that I didn't feel I was responsible for a client relapsing because he stole meds from me. They disagree. There seems to be a lot of differing opinions in the recovery world as to whether or not someone on long-term Suboxone treatment is technically "clean & sober." It's a matter of opinion & I don't believe it's that black & white. My life is completely manageable & I've had nothing but positive improvements since I've been on Subs. In addition, I feel there's been a defamation of my character because all the clients as well as staff members are privy to the situation; however the only side that's been told has come from the client who stole from me. I've had no opportunity to explain or defend myself to any of those people. My employer will not even acknowledge that I was stolen from. I used the analogy, "if a client stole a pen from my purse & harmed himself with it, am I also responsible for that?" I literally got no response. They hold the opinion at the facility that suboxone should only be used short term for opiate withdrawal. I've declined their ultimatum & I'm now out of a job that I'd planned to have for a very long time. I still haven't heard back from them since declining their terms 5 days ago. I never signed anything stating I wouldn't be on this medication nor that I would be breaking any rule by having it in my personal belongings. I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone! I was stolen from, which caused me physical discomfort since I didn't have my medication & wasn't due for a refill for a another few days, as well as a financial loss-sub isn't cheap. The client broke several facility rules, including: leaving their room during the nighttime hours, coming behind an employee-only enclosed counter, going through drawers & cupboards until they found my purse, & they stole a legally prescribed medication from a staff member. I've been an ideal employee, never called in sick, never been late, gladly obliged whenever asked to come in early, received nothing but glowing reviews from clients as well as outstanding reviews from my employer & was given several raises. My work was not affected in any way by my being on this med, I've always been able to perform my work duties & I've gone above & beyond. There have been several separate occasions while I worked there that heroin was smuggled into the facility & all the clients were put at risk & that wasn't made nearly as big of a deal as this has been. I'm being blamed for something that was out of my control & the client has had to take no responsibility or accountability for anything. Help! What should I do? Move on? Do I have a legal case? Was I in the wrong? I'm so confused & this has caused me & my family emotional distress & now financial problems. This just doesn't seem fair or just in any way. I feel I was violated & I'm now the one being punished. One last thought: when I met with my boss & was given the ultimatum, he stated that one issue with sub is that it "can be abused." Yes, I'm sure it can. However, a lot of medication can be, including a medication that I have personally seen him take every night to help him sleep before he goes to bed. It's also a medication given to nearly all the clients. Not only that, but the argument has no relevance to this situation. I don't abuse it, I never have & I was insulted that he would even suggest that.


Last edited by Scp92674 on Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:00 pm 
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First of all go to the Labor board. Don't make any statements to your employer or sign anything if you haven't already. I don't think an employer can interfere with your medical treatment - but the labor board should be able to advise you.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:08 pm 
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I just wanted to say that I'm sorry you're in this situation. It sounds awful and I would be so upset and frustrated. I'm upset for you! I don't have much advice, except what Lilly said or maybe speaking to a lawyer..? I don't think it's fair what they are doing to you.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:04 pm 
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Wow... I would suggest that you indeed speak with an attorney. I have always been up front with my employer about my use of Subs, for this reason alone. Many, many people out there are anti-Subs, as you can see in one main topic on this site's main page. Ignorance fuels their debate, but knowledge is power. Use the power you have. Talk to a lawyer. You'll have this in the bag. You can not lose your job over the owner's ignorance.

This is my opinion only, I am not a lawyer.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 1:37 am 
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Thank you all for your replies. I haven't signed anything or verbally agreed to anything. The only communication I've had since meeting with my boss is the email I sent 5 days ago stating that I was not comfortable with the terms he gave me. And that I didn't feel it was right or fair to contradict my Doctors advice, opinion, & treatment plan & that I shouldn't have to stop taking this med to keep my job. I'm going to check with the Labor Board, as well as meet with an attorney. Thanks so much! I'll update when I know more. But please post any other thoughts or opinions if you have them.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 3:44 pm 
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That totally sucks what they did to you. All the responses are good ones and I too think an attorney visit is the best direction to go.

Your medical history is protected by HIPPA laws. No one aside from you and your doctor should know anything about what meds you take or whatever your medical needs are. It would take a signed waiver from you to release any information.

Please keep us updated on how this goes. Your privacy rights have been violated. There is no way you can lose this case as long as you have a good lawyer.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:35 am 
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Be sure to contact the EEOC-- that is a lot cheaper than an attorney. You should have a division in your state-- maybe one in your immediate area. Addiction is a protected disability; you can be fired for being in active addiction, and you can be blocked from some jobs if they have reason to suspect that your addiction would cause problems--- but you can't be fired just for having the history. In your case, I would take the approach that you have the right to treat you illness according to your personal physician's recommendations. You will need the backing of your doc; he/she could help by writing a letter explaining the risk of stopping the medication.

Please keep us informed; this is the first case along this line I've heard, and we all want to know how it works out. Good luck--


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 12:12 pm 
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Below are some snippits from a document called 'Know your rights regarding Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)' I couldn't upload the entire PDF, but as always if someone wants to get a copy and provides an email I'll make sure you get it. I've bolded some points I think are important to this situation specifically:

It is illegal to discriminate against people because they are in MAT.
Federal civil rights laws protect qualified “individuals with disabilities” from discrimination in many areas of life. People in recovery from drug addiction – including those in MAT – generally are protected from discrimination by the following statues:
• Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
• Rehabilitation Act of 1973
• Fair Housing Act (FHA)
• Workforce Investment Act (WIA)
Many States and cities also have non-discrimination laws that protect individuals with disabilities – including those in MAT. This brochure does not discuss these laws, but information regarding them is typically available from the State and city agencies enforcing them.
WHO IS PROTECTED?
The non-discrimination laws mentioned above protect individuals with a “disability.” Most often, people in MAT are considered individuals with a “disability.”
Why? Under these Federal laws, an individual with a “disability” is someone who –
• Has a current “physical or mental impairment” that “substantially limits” one or more of that person’s “major life activities,” such as caring for one’s self, working, etc., or
• Has a record of such a substantially limiting impairment, or
• Is regarded as having such an impairment.
Addiction to opioids is an impairment that can and does, for many people, substantially limit a major life activity. For this reason, many courts have found that people in MAT have a record of an impairment. The same analysis applies to buprenorphine. Many people also regard people in MAT as having a substantially limiting impairment.

Example: Elias has been in MAT for two years, following a decade- long addiction to heroin. He recently worked for six months in the sales office of a newspaper, but was fired after telling his supervisor that he was in MAT. The supervisor said that the newspaper did not employ people in methadone programs because “we do not want drug addicts working here.” Elias has not used heroin – or any drugs illegally – since he began MAT two years ago.
Is Elias protected by Federal anti-discrimination laws?
Yes. Elias is an individual with a “disability” because it is clear that the employer “regards” him as having a current disability – drug addiction. He also has a “record” of a disability – addiction.


General rule.
Federal law protects people in MAT against job discrimination. The ADA and the Rehabilitation Act prohibit most employers from firing, refusing to hire, or discriminating in the terms and conditions of employment against any qualified job applicant or employee on the basis of a disability. Many courts have ruled that people in MAT have a disability and are therefore protected from discrimination by these laws.
Employers are covered by Federal laws as follows:
• The ADA applies to all State and local governmental units, and to private employers with 15 or more employees.
• The Rehabilitation Act applies to Federal employers and other public and private employers who receive Federal grants, contracts, or aid.
In general, these covered employers –
• May not deny a job to or fire a person simply because he or she is in MAT.
• Must provide “reasonable accommodations” when needed to enable those with a disability to perform their job duties, unless this would cause the employer undue hardship.
A “reasonable accommodation” is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Examples include:
• Job restructuring
• Part-time or modified work schedules
• Permitting a leave of absence
• Reassignment to a vacant position
An employer is not required to grant an accommodation that causes “undue hardship” to the employer, meaning significant difficulty or expense. The employer may suggest an alternative accommodation to the one proposed by the employee or job applicant.

Example: Kira works at a hospital from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and has been receiving MAT for one year. The program requires Kira to pick up the dose three times a week and is open only from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Unfortunately, the hospital changed Kira’s shift so that she must work from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Is she entitled to a “reasonable accommodation” of changing to her former shift?
Yes, unless it would cause the hospital an “undue hardship.” Allowing a schedule change so that Kira could pick up the dose would be a reasonable accommodation, and her employer should allow it.


NOTE that there are exceptions, such as if you are working in a small business environment that has a total of less than 15 employees. In my experience that type of environment does exist in the field of addiction but is extremely unlikely. It becomes even more unlikely because I'm guessing some federal or even state or county aid or grants are being utilized in some capacity. The only POSSIBLE thing I see that could be an issue is the fact that you did have controlled substance in the building; then again you did have it in a protected staff-only area that somehow a client illegally stole from. Below is part of the same PDF that relates to what I'm saying here:

Treating someone less favorably for reasons other than the person’s disability, however, is generally not illegal discrimination. For example, it is not illegal discrimination to deny a person a job, services, or admission to a program because that person –
• Does not meet essential eligibility requirements.
• Creates a direct threat to health or safety by his/her behavior. Simply being in MAT does not pose any health or safety threat.
• Violates the rules of a workplace, housing facility, or other program or commits a crime, including a drug-related crime, when that misconduct would cause anyone to be disciplined, evicted, or excluded.


Again, the 'rules of the workplace' can't simply be "We don't agree with a long-standing treatment modality supported by your physician." If a client wanted to be on methadone or buprenorphine maintenance, the facility would have to accept it in theory if the possibility to make that accommodation existed. We all know it rarely happens, but it's becoming an issue that is being looked at more closely.

Too bad you didn't take the paid leave and get your ducks in a row with the ADA and go back with information/support from your physician and threat of litigation after dealing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) attorneys. I know it's easier said than done and you were probably forced to make a semi-snap judgment. I, myself was essentially bullied out of my first job within the field of addiction when I disclosed to someone I had been fairly close to that I had been on methadone maintenance for some time and it got around the entire ('abstinence only') facility and I quickly went from the golden boy to a major outcast and was terminated for something that would have never been an issue otherwise. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise, however, because what the hell was I doing working in a setting that didn't support what I already knew was so much more successful. Since then I moved on and have met a host of supportive people in the MAT/Harm-Reduction arena. Good luck, whatever happens I hope you keep us posted.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:45 am 
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Very, very helpful stuff! Thank you! As you pointed out, the only leg they have to stand on is that I broke a facility rule by having a controlled substance in the building. However, it was in an enclosed employee-only area that is clearly labeled as such. Also, I was never verbally told or signed anything stating I couldn't have prescribed meds in my personal belongings. But who knows to what lengths they will go to show otherwise?!
Update; I finally heard back from my boss via text message yesterday (8 days after I emailed declining the terms) & all he said was, "Got your email. Thanks for your contribution here. To help, we will continue to pay you through the end of the year." That's great, but I still feel like it isn't fair that I no longer have a job! After all of this, I wouldn't want to go back to work there any way. My character & integrity has been tarnished & it'd be very uncomfortable. And like TwinCitiesHardCore, I don't want to work in a facility that doesn't support MAT. It seems to me that the fact that they would have me come back to work if I was no longer taking buprenorphine is evidence itself of discrimination. Maybe not in a legal way, although I suspect it is, but I'm sure they'd just say I broke facility rules. I haven't yet met with a lawyer; I was waiting to hear back from them before I went ahead with anything. Now my concern is if I do go forward & see if there's a valid case, should I or shouldn't I accept the "severance" offered?
More than anything, I'm still frustrated that they will not even acknowledge that I was stolen from. It just pisses me off that their only focus is that I'm on buprenorphine! I met with my Doctor yesterday & he agrees with me & with every other opinion that's been posted. He would absolutely testify or write a letter if it were necessary. I just don't know if I should move on, be glad they're paying me a little while longer & be done with it? Or go through the potentially arduous legal process? I don't know what the right thing to do is, this sucks SO bad! I think maybe I will contact the EEOC & see what they think. Thank you for that recommendation, wasn't aware of that.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:59 am 
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After they are done paying you make sure to inform them you need to press criminal theft charges against the client and will need them to testify since they were the ones that made you aware of the theft.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 12:26 pm 
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Contact EEOC. They'll know specifics related to the area you live in and gain nuances of the situation in a verbal communication, this is the kind of thing they are well-versed in dealing with. Good luck and keep us posted!

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:27 pm 
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I would love to press charges against the client who caused this whole mess! They won't even tell me who it was- which I think is unfair! I lost my job because of this person, I should have the right to know their name!!! I spoke with my Doctor today & he said to report it to DOPL & also suggested contacting the EEOC. He thinks this is complete BS himself! I'll update as soon as I know more. Thanks again everyone who's posted, you've all be extremely helpful!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:55 pm 
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Scp92674 wrote:
I would love to press charges against the client who caused this whole mess! They won't even tell me who it was- which I think is unfair! I lost my job because of this person, I should have the right to know their name!!! I spoke with my Doctor today & he said to report it to DOPL & also suggested contacting the EEOC. He thinks this is complete BS himself! I'll update as soon as I know more. Thanks again everyone who's posted, you've all be extremely helpful!


That is why they pay you until June, so you don't have to subpoena everyone that works there in to court to testify. I am sure they can not all claim doctor/patient confidentiality.

Edit: Even if they could if you make it sound expensive and time consuming enough to them... :)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:58 pm 
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Hello I was just curious as what if anything else has happened with your unfortunate situation. This is my first post and first month sober by the way!!


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:05 am 
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Congrats on your 1 month sober and welcome!

I don't know if the OP is still around, but I guess we'll find out.

May I suggest that you write up an intro of yourself in Introductions? More people are likely to see that post.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:07 pm 
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First of all you need to call your local Employment Labor and tell them you were fired from your job for being prescribed something that helps you stay clean. Also businesses are NOT allowed to ask you what medications your prescribed. They can get in a lot of trouble. You need to call a lawyer and let them know you lost your job for being prescribed suboxone. You can sue them. That is TOTALLY ILLEGAL! My boss has asked me along with managers if I'm prescribed Suboxone or Methadone. I said no because I know the laws. Seriously call a lawyer. Good luck!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:59 pm 
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Sorry GC, this thread is over 3 years old.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:53 am 
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I know this thread is almost as old as I am, but I can't help seeing the other side of this issue,
OP used an analogy concerning a pen...that if she'd brought a pen into work and the patient stole it and stabbed himself with it would she be responsible?

But a pen is not a controlled substance. Suppose she'd brought a gun to work, one that she was licensed to carry? In that case she would be responsible I believe. OP is working in a facility that treats drug addicts. Desperate drug addicts are known to steal things from time to time. :D Many years ago I tried to cash a student loan check...by erasing the college also named on the check... so I could use the funds for drugs and prostitutes. I wasn't a bad person, but I was most certainly a sick person.

In my very humble opinion OP should have been more careful. I also think the fact that she was no longer on MAT is a complicating factor. (not sure if I have that exactly right). Even if not, I think she has a responsibility as an employee in a drug treatment facility to be more careful.

I doubt I'd have posted this comment had the thread been current. But I'm assuming....hoping...OP is no longer around as I don't want to hurt her feelings.]

Edit: I see that she was still on MAT, just a low dose apparently so that she could also use as pain med.


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