Drunken worker injured? Discipline right away

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Employees who come to work under the influence of alcohol are obvious safety risks. If workers are impaired, don’t hesitate to act promptly.

Waiting until someone gets hurt could backfire badly. Courts may view the delay as suspicious and assume you’re fabricating a reason to fire the allegedly intoxicated worker.

Recent case: Robert Harvest claimed he hurt his back at work when a co-worker lost his grip on an air conditioner the two were installing. While Harvest was taking time off, his employer fired him, allegedly for coming to work drunk. He sued for workers’ compensation benefits.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission didn’t believe the employer’s story, reasoning that if Harvest had been intoxicated, the company would have acted immediately rather than waiting until he was injured. (Harvest v. Professional Heating, No. 86044, North Carolina Industrial Commission, 2009)

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