The workplace environment brings a number of people together under one roof which may include employees with addictions. There are no clear cut ways of identifying someone as an alcoholic. However, there may be signs during the course of employment that allows the employer or colleague to see that something is off. Perhaps, behavior changes, absence from work or mistakes etc. Though, how does one classify an individual as an addict or a mere social drinker? Can an employer fire an alcoholic? These questions cannot be taken lightly and require legal expertise.
Employers should take the appropriate steps to safeguard their workplace. They must also abide by the legislation that protects the affected employee. One simple error can be costly. In the past, an employer was legally allowed to fire an alcohol addicted employee. However, today, the Ontario Human Rights Code protects employees who suffer from alcoholism and classifies alcoholism as a disability. The following rules outline some basic procedures to follow:
1. Employee’s with alcohol addictions are protected under the human rights law;
2. Individual assessment is needed, the Zero tolerance policy is rarely accepted; and
3. Document the harms done by the employee and use written warnings.
It is important to consider that these will vary accordingly as all situations are different. To protect your best interests and follow the law accordingly, consult with one of our lawyers who can provide expert advice.