Addiction: Reporting Drug or Alcohol Use on the Job
Workplace policy usually requires drug and alcohol free work environment. When drug or alcohol abuse is occurring, employees should consult the employee handbook or the human resources department to determine the best way to report. It can be uncomfortable to report such behavior, but it can be important to the health and safety of all those working.
In some situations, an employee who notifies management about a fellow coworker’s use on the job may experience harassment and retaliation. Consult with a lawyer if you believe that you are experiencing retaliation for requiring a safe work environment.
Know the Workplace Rules on Drug and Alcohol
Employers are responsible for outlining workplace standards for drug and alcohol use. Clear regulations ensure that employees know how to interact with the rules and company expectations. This also lessens possible confusion should an employer need to take action due to an employee’s conduct with drugs or alcohol.
Recognize Addiction Symptoms
Drug users and alcoholics can be excellent at functioning in everyday life, which can make them difficult to spot. These symptoms are not necessary proof of anything. However, these can be clues to possible drug or addiction abuse.
- Tardiness and routine absences
- Low or inconsistent job performance
- Sudden weight loss, dental problems, or unsteady gait
- Bloodshot eyes
Report the Drug or Alcohol Problem
Once the first report is made of drug or alcohol use. You may be required for further investigation. In some cases, your involvement will be kept private. Be prepared to write up a report of the incident as well.
Conduct Random Drug Tests
Some employers choose to have random drug tests. If an employee is a part of a union, that individual may request to have a union representative present for the drug test. Drug tests are legal for employers to administer at any time.
Contact Law Enforcement
When drugs are located in the workplace, law enforcement should be notified. However, if your company has security, speak with them first and allow them to contact the police. Drugs in the workplace can create a liability issue so it’s important to contact law enforcement.
Consult a Lawyer
When an employee suspects that a coworker is abusing drugs or alcohol while on the job, it can be a difficult decision about reporting the behavior to management. You may fear retaliation or harassment from other workers, but the law is clear that employers are obligated to provide a safe and healthy environment for work. Therefore, if you experience retaliation, you may also have certain protections under the law.
In some cases, the law might view reporting an ongoing problem of drug abuse within a company as a protected whistle blowing activity. Be sure to explore your protections under the law.
If you have experienced harassment or retaliation for a whistle blowing activity, contact an employment lawyer who will know how to navigate your case and your rights under the law.