HR Chronicles: Unveiling Insights & Lessons

What Would You Do? A Potential Drug and Alcohol Issue

HR Chronicles is a periodic look at real-life situations for which our HR experts have provided client guidance.

Workplace Compliance and Purpose

A Company’s objective is to maintain a drug and alcohol-free work environment that is safe and productive for Employees and others doing business with the Company. The use, possession, purchase, sale, distribution, or being under the influence of any narcotic substance and/or the misuse of legal drugs while on Company or client premises or while performing services for the Company is strictly prohibited and violates Workplace Safety standards.

achohol and pills

Companies also prohibit employees from reporting to work or performing services under the influence of alcohol or consuming alcohol while on duty or during work hours. Companies prohibit off-premises abuse of alcohol and controlled substances, as well as the possession, use, or sale of narcotic substances, when these activities adversely affect job performance, job safety, or the any Company reputation in the community.

What is Reasonable Suspicion?

The concept of the term Reasonable Suspicion is a belief or hunch, that an Employee is under the influence of drugs and alcohol and is adversely affecting job performance.

The Employee poses a threat to themselves, others, or the Company. This evidence might come from observations made by co-workers, and information shared during meetings or training sessions.

Potential Scenario

A 45-year-old nurse has worked for the Hospital for three years, but you have been a supervisor for only six weeks. This morning, as you are making your “rounds”, you noticed the Employee was not walking straight and was muttering. You checked the patients’ records and you noticed the Employee is behind schedule.

You approached the Employee and asked how it is going. The Employee’s complexion was flushed, eyes were red and tearing.

When you asked the Employee again if there are any problems, the Employee looked at you and seemed unfocused. The Employee was distant and mumbled an incoherent response.

Ask the Employee to accompany you to your office or other private area. Ask if the Employee is okay; solicit a coherent verbal response. Identify and confront the Employee with your observations. Explain that a Reasonable Suspicion test will be conducted.

  • flushed complexion
  • red, watery eyes
  • unresponsive to verbal greeting
  • unfocused, distracted eye contact
  • incoherent, mumbled speech

Reasonable Suspicion testing might be necessary. Both an alcohol and drug test maybe warranted since signs and symptoms are consistent with either drug or alcohol use.

If your company is experiencing similar issues, contact us for a confidential consultation. All employee-related matters will be help in the strictest confidence.