Can You Be Denied Employment for Taking Adderall?

If you have a disability and you are taking a prescription for that disability, you can't be excluded from job consideration based on related drug test results.

By , J.D. · UC Berkeley School of Law

Many employers drug test their employees and potential employees. If you're taking a prescription medication such as Adderall or medical marijuana, you might be wondering whether they will show up on a drug test, and if so, how that might affect your employment prospects.

Here's what you need to know.

Employment, Drug Testing, and Adderall

First of all, Adderall will likely show up on your drug test. Not only is it an amphetamine, but it is also a frequently abused prescription medication. Because of this, you will test positive on the drug test.

However, that doesn't mean it will cost you the job. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers may not discriminate against applicants or employees with disabilities.

If your ADD meets the legal definition of a disability, and you are taking medication as prescribed for that disability, you can't be excluded from consideration on that basis.

In a typical workplace drug testing scenario, applicants who test positive have an opportunity to meet with a medical review officer and explain the result.

That means you can explain that you are taking Adderall as prescribed by your physician. As proof, you should bring the bottle with you to show the prescription and dosage amount. If your test results match the information you have provided, your test result will be changed to "negative" for illegal drugs.

Positive Drug Test for Medical Marijuana: Can You Be Fired?

In the majority of states where medical marijuana is legal, you generally can't be fired for testing positive if you have a prescription.

The use of recreational marijuana is another story, even in states where it's legal. The vast majority of states allow employers to drug test for legal marijuana and make employment decisions—including termination—based on the results.

However, seven states have passed laws protecting the employment rights of recreational marijuana users. Those states are:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York, and
  • Rhode Island.

If you live in one of those states, check your labor department's website for additional information on your legal rights.

Employer Confidentiality and Drug Testing

Information about your test results and your medication may be reported to your employer. However, the employer must abide by strict confidentiality requirements in handling this information. For example, it must be kept in a confidential file, separate from your regular personnel file, and it may be revealed only to those who have a true "need to know" (such as emergency medical staff).

As long as you can do your job, with or without a reasonable accommodation, your employer may not consider your disability in making job decisions, including whether or not to hire you.

If your disability makes you unable to perform the essential duties of your job or poses a direct threat to your own health and safety on the job or the health and safety of your coworkers, then your employer may take action. Otherwise, you are protected.

Do I Have to Take My Employer's Drug Test?

As to whether you have to take the drug test in the first place, that is up to you. Generally speaking though, employers have the right to refuse to hire anyone who won't take a drug test. So, while the employer cannot physically force you to take the test, the consequences of saying no are pretty severe. If you want the job, you must take the test.

Your state may give you certain rights in the testing process, such as the right to advance notice or to have a retest if you dispute a positive result. (To find out your state's rules, see Nolo's State Laws on Drug Testing page.)

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