Can an employer legally order employees not to keep prescription medications on or near their work-space? In my specific case I have a medication that I need to take during work hours that I keep in a tool box that I lock when I am not present.

Recently I received a message from my boss instructing me to only keep my medication in my car and not to bring it onto the job-site, given that the parking lot provided for employees is a 15 minute walk away from the job-site.

This puts a burden on me to walk for half an hour at lunchtime if I want to be able to take my medications which feels like it should be illegal, the country is the US, the state is Florida and the occupation is carpenter. The medication is for ADHD.

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    You'll have to include more information such as 1. Which country and 2. Of what nature is your job? (Defense? Nuclear? Air traffic control? Supervising children?) and - to be fair the general nature of your medication but I would advice not including that as you are posting with what could be a recognizable name.
    – Stian
    Nov 24, 2019 at 21:18
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    @gnasher729 would the law not be a reasonably convincing argument for that? Nov 24, 2019 at 21:48
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    In the US, it's most likely illegal, but you must assert your rights first and preferably assert them in writing (so your employer can't pretend not to have known). But as your employer told you why? Is he worried someone would break in? If your medication comes in a syringe-form, is he worried that someone might get the wrong idea? As he told you this in writing? Do you have an HR department? Did they tell you? Or did your manager tell you? The type of work would be good to know too. Nov 24, 2019 at 21:54
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    @JeremySouth, Great! It's good that you have that in writing. But at the same time, it doesn't look like you had a conversation with your boss. Could you come to a compromise? Keep only one or to pills on hand? or in a special box? or with your lunchbox? or in locket with a strangle-proof detachable cord? Have you told him about your car being too far away? Nov 24, 2019 at 22:36
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    What if you don't have a car? What if you have a car but it's 35C outside which would destroy your medication?
    – shoover
    Nov 25, 2019 at 5:48

3 Answers 3


It is probably a liability (or at least a worry) for the employer if you keep a strong stimulant in a place where it can be accessed by other employees.

I suggest you put it in your pocket. The pill container is too big for that, and it is probably illegal for you to carry the pills outside that container. If you have more than one container, you can remove the cap, put the container in boiling water (but off the heater), then fish it out and flatten it. Cover it with a piece of tape. Sorry this is such a pain in the ass, but in current US cultural climate it is reasonable to ask you not to leave stimulants lying around, legal or otherwise.

You should look up whether (in Florida) you are allowed to put a prescription controlled substance in a smaller container that would fit in your pocket more easily. Philosophically, you might not care about the legality, but there is no way to ensure you will never be accused of some infraction and searched. You do not want an annoyance to turn into a serious problem.

Edit: as Stephan pointed out in the comments, you may be able to ask the pharmacist to provide you with a duplicate label which would make it legal to carry the medicine in a different container.

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    With a smaller container, he may need to put a copy of the label with the smaller container. I don't know about other pharmacies, but my Walgreens (in California) gives me two additional prescription labels in addition to the label on the bottle itself. Nov 25, 2019 at 8:06
  • @StephanBranczyk its really illegal to carry your meds in a different container in the USA talk. I regularly carry a spare set of my anti rejection meds and when I go away of have a plastic baggie wit the rest (I take about 18 pils a day) Feb 19, 2020 at 22:16
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    @Neuromancer, You can't just tell me something is illegal, and not give me a citation. If there is such a law, I'm sure there are caveats. For instance, when there are little kids around, or when you're traveling cross-border, or when there is a big wad of unexplained cash next your medication baggie. Feb 21, 2020 at 4:14

Can an employer request employees not take prescription medications onto jobsite location

Very short (useless) answer: YES.

Longer (more useful) answer: please keep reading.

I think that there is no law in any country, preventing an employee take some doctor prescribed medicine during work hours.

However, some conditions / restrictions may apply:

  • some medicine can cause sleepiness, dizziness, or can affect the ability to perform safe work in other ways; in this case, the issue must be discussed clearly with the doctor and with the employer, prior to starting the treatment;
  • some containers can damage the work area - e.g. a newly painted product prepared for sale;
  • the content of the medicine can contaminate the substances around; especially important in medical / chemical environments;

So if the employer has a rule about the medicine, then you need to discuss it openly with the said employer.

The desired outcome of the discussion:

  • if the medication is compatible with the work being performed;
  • if the container is compatible with the work area;
  • if the substance of the medicine is compatible with the work area;

As a result, you need to reach a common agreement about:

  • where to store the medicine you are supposed to take during the work;
  • which is the designated area where you can take the said medicine, to not cause problems.

You need to clarify with the employer that keeping medicine in the car is not advisable under any conditions. Please read about this, and other considerations below.

I assume you do not have to take the medicine more than 2-3 times during a work day / shift. There are containers especially for organizing the pills intake during the day, you can find them in pharmacies, and in many shops carrying medical accessories.

You can use such container, with the appropriate labels: after lunch, at 3 pm, before going home, ... or whatever suits. You do the proper organization at home, and when the time comes for the pill, you just take the respective dose.

NOTE: many (most? all?) medicine is temperature sensitive. Especially during the summer, keeping the pills in a car parked under the hot sun is a definite NO. Other medicine is frost sensitive - danger during the winter.

Note: any small tube / box can fit the needs. E.g., the empty tubes from medicine you took in the past. Recycling / reusing also means ecological responsibility.

This is one such container:

picture of pillboxes. Each box has four compartments, labelled "Morning", "Noon", "Evening", and "Bedtime".

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    The question is whether the employer can request or ban medication on the work premises... Do you answer that?
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 25, 2019 at 8:44
  • You were right, it was not obvious. I expanded the answer. Thanks.
    – virolino
    Nov 25, 2019 at 9:11

In America you're protected by the ADA laws. You do not have to disclose that you are even taking medications, so it's unclear how your boss knows you're taking medication.

As far as I can see, they have to demonstrate that your medication is a danger before they can ask you to disclose it or if they can limit its use. Ask to see their medication disclosure which they must provide you. From there, carefully read the rules and determine if you are in compliance.

  • The protection offered by the ADA is a myth unless you have 5 years to wait, and the money to retain a good lawyer. It is not some shield you can hide behind Nov 25, 2019 at 18:20
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    @RichardSaysReinstateMonica Isn't that true with anything in America? There are always loopholes and such.
    – Dan
    Nov 25, 2019 at 18:31
  • There is considerable backlash against the ADA. We with disabilities are seen as lawsuits waiting to happen, and not without reason, as it's been abused. The ADA affords little protection, and if you even invoke it, you will be found to performing below standard. Nothing at all to do with your disabilities. No, not at all Nov 25, 2019 at 18:59
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    @RichardSaysReinstateMonica That's why the ADA mandates employers can't ask if you're taking prescriptions. So it remains to be in question why the OP disclosed it. By doing so, he opens himself up to discrimination and the employer can only ask you if you're taking prescription if and only if the job is dangerous.
    – Dan
    Nov 25, 2019 at 19:44
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    I have never officially disclosed having a disability, however the medication comes in a relatively large orange bottle, the kind you see for most medications, and it is difficult to hide the presence of that bottle while working closely with others over a long period of time. it's a very small company so I doubt they have anything resembling a medication disclosure. Dec 1, 2019 at 1:09

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