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The basic boundaries of alcohol testing

Alcoholism is a curious and frustrating disease. For those who suffer from it, it may take an unfortunate set of events to realize that they suffer from a disease and that it can be treated like any other illness.

For employers, alcoholism can be just as frustrating because of the effect it can have on the company, both in dealing with a troubled employee, knowing how to screen applicants properly, and how an employer can maintain a safe workplace environment, all without violating Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

While each of these situations is best dealt with through detailed conversations with an experienced employment law attorney, this post will provide some basic information about what an employer may do with applicants, potential employees who have received employment offers, and current employees.

Applicants – Under the ADA, an employer is prohibited from asking disability related questions. Indeed, an employer is permitted to ask if an applicant drinks alcohol, but additional inquiries into how often and under what circumstances may illicit information about a disability. With this in mind, employers should refrain from asking personal questions to applicants.

Prospects who have received an offer – As part of an onboarding process, an employer may conduct alcohol testing, and even condition the offer on such a test. However, the employer must test all employees in the particular job category, and may not revoke a job offer absent specific revelations about the prospect.

Active employees – An employer may enact and enforce rules that prohibit employees from being under the influence of alcohol while on the job, and conduct alcohol tests after a workplace accident.

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