Jack Wenik, a Member of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences and Litigation practices, in the firm’s Newark office, was part of a panel discussion, “The Opioid Discussion: Its Impact on the Workplace,” presented by NJ Biz. An article highlighting his participation, “Panel: HR Department Must Do More to Assist Opioid-Addicted Employees,” was featured in an NJ Biz article by Vince Calio.

Following is an excerpt (see below to download the full article in PDF format):

Jack Wenik, a former federal prosecutor and a member at Newark-based law firm Epstein Becker Green, one of the top health care law firms in the U.S., cautioned employers to not hesitate to terminate an employee who is suffering from addiction, if that worker commits a crime.

“This can be a double-edged sword,” Wenik told the audience. “If the [addicted] employee doesn’t make that leap and seek assistance, it becomes problematic because, if I run a hospital and I now have a nurse that’s figured out how to steal medications, I’m in a catch-22 situation.”

“That employer now has someone who’s committed a criminal act, so the employer really can’t let them continue to perform their duties,” he said. “So from a legal perspective, if the employee can’t take advantage of an EAP or other program, I think for a lot of employers, their hands may be tied.”

“The last thing you want is to read in the newspaper that you ignored someone pilfering medications and engaging in criminality and yet you kept them on board. That’s the difficulty in finding a balance for the employer. You want to make programs available and assistance available, but once someone’s crossed the line into criminality, then it becomes very problematic to keep that person on board, and you could be exposed to liability.”

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