Pile On: More Drug and Alcohol Issues

Yesterday, we blogged about Steve Sarkisian and identified issues related to his termination from USC. Not to pile on the Sark, but his mistakes can lead to a lot of lessons for employers.

First, employers should have drug and alcohol policies that permit random and reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol testing of employees. That way if your coach shows up drunk and tries to call a Hail Mary on every play, you are permitted to submit him to a drug and alcohol test. The policy must, among other things, address what happens if an employee refuses to take a test, and if and when alcohol use is permissible (especially given that the holiday party season is rapidly approaching).

In addition to highlighting the need for an effective drug and alcohol policy, the Sark issue presents an interesting question for employers who may not want to terminate the offending employee. If USC had not terminated Sarkisian, they should have, at a minimum, required him to execute a Last Chance Agreement (“LCA”). A LCA generally requires an employee to seek treatment and provides for additional testing once he or she returns to work. It further specifies that, as the name indicates, this is the employee’s “last chance” to remain employed and that any future incidents would result in immediate termination.

Handling employees who have drug or alcohol issues is always a difficult endeavor for employers. Having an effective policy, however, can limit some of the potential concerns.

For more information regarding drug and/or alcohol issues in the workplace or any other labor and employment law matter, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Labor and Employment Department: George Hlavac, Steve Hoffman, Jeff Stewart, Ed Easterly, or John Buckley.