When You Suspect an Employee is Impaired at Work
If you suspect or receive a report that an employee has come to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol, consider the following factors:
- Observe the employee’s behavior and appearance for signs of intoxication (e.g. slurred speech, balance problems, erratic or irrational behavior, smell of alcohol), giving rise to a reasonable suspicion of impairment / intoxication
- Obtain a witness (another manager or supervisor) and meet with the employee in a private area.
- Talk to the employee about your observations, without making accusations.
- Refer the employee to available resources, such as EAP.
- If permitted under state law and company policy, send the employee for drug testing.
- If testing is not an option, ask the employee if you may refer him or her to a health care provider for evaluation.
- If the employee refuses evaluation, remove him or her from the workplace (e.g. administrative leave).
- Send the employee home, but do not let him/her drive. If the employee insists on driving, inform him/her that you will need to contact the police for safety reasons. Call one of the employee’s emergency contacts or someone else the employee identifies to pick him or her up or, if employee can safely be sent home alone, a taxi.
- Document your observations, interactions, and conclusions.
- If you conclude the employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work, the appropriate response (e.g. fit for duty, a last chance agreement, discipline, termination) may depend on a number of different factors, including but not limited to:
- Whether the employee’s substance abuse is causing the employee to have conduct or performance issues
- Whether the employee acknowledges he or she came to work under the influence or protests; and to what the employee attributes the objective signs of impairment (e.g. a medical condition)
- Whether the employee discloses he or she is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol
- Whether the employee indicates a desire to participate in rehabilitation
- Consider obligations under the ADA and relevant state law and consult with counsel, if necessary, before taking disciplinary action.