Employer controlled hydration

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Employer controlled hydration

Can an employer determine/dictate how, when, and where an employee
consumes hydrating beverages? Example a restaurant employee who
performs 99 of their duties in front of guests is not permitted to drink water
in their view, and must duck out of sight –completely pausing all job duties–
to maintain healthy hydration levels.

Asked on July 27, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, actually an empoyer can do this. In an "at will" work relationship, a company/business can set he terms of employment much as it sees fit. That is unless it constitutes some form of legally actionable discrimination. So if you have a medical condition that requires you to consume liquids at specific intervals, then your employer must make a "reasonable accomodation" for your disability, so long as such adjustments do not impose a disproportionate or undue burden on the employer. Also, if this treatment violates the terms of a union agreement or employment contract, it is illegal.

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