By Jon Hyman
Sep. 23, 2014
We know it’s legal to fire an employee for drinking on the job, but what about an employee who drinks off the job? Can an employer legally terminate an employee who tests positive for off-the-job alcohol consumption?
Twenty-nine states have laws that prohibit employers from taking an adverse action against an employee based on their lawful off-duty activities. In these states, the answer is easy — no, you cannot fire an employee for off-duty drinking, unless, of course, the employee is drunk or impaired at work, at which point all bets are off.
Ohio, however, is not one of these states. Does this mean that in Ohio you can legally fire an employee who drinks away from work?
Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took up this issue in an Informal Discussion Letter. The EEOC was asked, “Is lawful for an employer to require employees who are alcoholics or perceived to be alcoholics to permanently abstain from drinking alcohol on and off the job as a condition of continued employment?”
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