Bruce S. Harrison on Discipline or Discharge for Drug or Alcohol-Related Conduct

Bruce S. Harrison on Discipline or Discharge for Drug or Alcohol-Related Conduct

Most corporations have long been aware of the economic costs of employee alcoholism. No company, large or small, is immune from this problem. A large number of corporations have developed programs to identify, rehabilitate and, if necessary, discipline and discharge employees who have used or abused drugs and/or alcohol.
 
In this Emerging Issues Commentary, Bruce Harrison discusses how to create a properly structured drug/alcohol program. A well structured program may increase employee productivity, reduce employee turnover, reduce health insurance costs, reduce accidents and poor decision making. On the other hand, a poorly drafted or administered program will not only fail to achieve these goals, but is virtually guaranteed to create severe morale problems at best and subject an employer to expensive litigation at worst.
 
“While a number of employers have policies governing situations in which employees have actually been observed consuming alcohol or using narcotics while on duty, such policies often do not satisfactorily address the difficultproblem of detection where an individual is suspected of alcohol or illegal drug use, but is not caught in the act,” states Harrison. “In response to their increased awareness of the costs and associated risks of employee drug and alcohol usage, a number ofemployers have adopted requirements that employees and/or applicants submit to urinalysis and/or blood tests for the purposes of detecting narcotics or alcohol.”
 
Harrison thus analyzes the factors that should generally be considered before embarking on a drug or alcohol testing program. This Emerging Issues Commentary was originally published as Section 4.02 of Corporate Counsel Solutions: Employment Policies and Practices.
 
 
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