October 7, 2019

It ranks high on most HR professional’s minds as a nightmare come true: an employee has just showed up for work and it is seems clear that they are drunk.  Now what?  First, understand that the signs of alcohol intoxication can sometimes be confused with an illness or medication.  If you are observing bloodshot eyes, an odor or alcohol and slurred speech, instead of rushing to a snap judgment and accusing the employee of being drunk, rely on your reasonable suspicion clause in your drug testing policy to get the employee tested.  Arrange alternative transportation for the employee to get to the testing center and await the test results.  If the results are positive, you may consider having the employee attend a rehabilitation program or decide to take disciplinary measures.  Remember, the appropriate route to take depends on many things including past practices, policies, and state law.  Last, be on the lookout for the possibility of having to provide accommodations under the ADA.  Individuals suffering from alcoholism may be protected by the ADA and eligible for various accommodations such as time off to attend a rehabilitation program or AA meetings.  As with most HR issues, while the appropriate way to handle a drunken employee may seem clear, it is often more muddled than that.  For expert assistance from our team of legal pros, reach out to myHRcounsel for answers.

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