San Jose, CA asked in Employment Law for California

Q: Can my boss legally tell me to take more Ritalin to work more hours?

I confided in my boss that I have ADHD and had to go back on my Ritalin prescription to help with the increase workload, specifically with numbers and spreadsheet type activities. Normally I can manage my ADHD without stimulants but I am essentially covering 2 jobs at the moment and finding it very hard to concentrate. He told me I should just take more Ritalin to get the job done. I feel very uncomfortable with even having to be on it in the first place, nonetheless my boss (not a physician) telling me to increase my dose. Debating if I should go to HR but want to know where I stand first before I open that door.

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3 Lawyer Answers
Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
Answered
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The first mistake you made was sharing that private medical information with your employer. Your employer has no right to know that you have ADHD, or that you take Ritalin. In the future, jealously protect that medically private information.

If you have restrictions on your ability to perform the job you are being asked to do, the only thing the employer is allowed to know is what those restrictions are and any proposed reasonable accommodations that need to be made to allow you to perform your regular job. In your case, there might be a restriction on the number of hours you can work in a day, or there might be no restrictions because your doctor (not your employer) recommends that you take more medication.

The employer has no legal right to make you take more medication and you are under no legal duty to follow the employer's medically-related demand. Furthermore, your employer is not allowed to know if you do start taking more medicine or not.

Whether or not you decide to go to HR should depend on what happens next. If the boss continues to raise the issue and attempts to make you talk about your medication, it would make sense to go to HR, who may be able to educate the boss about what is and is not appropriate.

Good luck to you.

1 user found this answer helpful

Brad S Kane
Brad S Kane
Answered
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: No. Your boss cannot legally require you to take Ritalin and it was inappropriate for your boss to even suggest it.

You should document your concerns in writing.

Finally, if your doctor feels you need work related restrictions, including that you are working too many hours, then your doctor should provide a medical certification of those work restrictions and you should provide it to the HR department.

Niran Grimberg
Niran Grimberg
Answered
  • Valley Village, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) an employer with 5 or more employees may not harass, discriminate, or retaliate against an individual with a disability. ADHD would be considered a disability, and if you told your boss about it, your boss, under the FEHA, should have engaged in what is called the good faith interactive process wherein they should have asked you if are in need of any reasonable accommodation, and if so, if they can grant said accommodation. California law states that one comment may constitute harassment, so your boss telling you that may be considered harassment based on the circumstances, and especially if you complained. Regardless, an attorney would need to know more facts surrounding your circumstances to be able to tell you whether you have a case against your employer. You should probably speak to an attorney.

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