If I suspect an employee of drinking on the job, what are my options as an employer?

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If I suspect an employee of drinking on the job, what are my options as an employer?

Asked on September 29, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can fire the employee--and probably should. If the employee does not have an employment contract (or is not covered by a union agreement), he or she is an employee at will. An employee at will may be fired at any time, for any reason, even a trivial or "bad" one (i.e. you can fire an employee at will simply because you had a bad day)--when there is a good reason, such as firing someone who may cause you to incur liability, or damage your business or customer relationships, it is clear than an employer can terminate an employee at will.

Even if there is a contract or union agreement, while you have to follow its terms or provisions in regard to grounds and procedure(s) for termination, the odds are good that drinking on the job, which does impair performance and put the employer at risk of liability (e.g. the employee or someone else is hurt because he or she is impaired) would constitute good cause.


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