Alcohol and Drug Policies to Protect Your Business

In a report recently published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 8.7 percent of full-time workers in the 18- to 64-year-old age group used alcohol heavily in the previous month, and 8.6 percent used illicit drugs. Not surprisingly, 9.5 percent of workers were dependent on or abused alcohol or illicit drugs in the previous year. Substance abuse in the workplace costs U.S. companies billions of dollars a year in lost productivity, workplace accidents and injuries, employee absenteeism and increased illness.

Dramatically worse are the statistics for lawyers who have substance abuse problems. According to Intervention Strategies 18 percent to 20 percent of lawyers have substance abuse problems, compared to the general population at 8 percent to 10 percent. Some 25 percent of lawyers facing disciplinary actions with the bar association or private legal malpractice actions are found to be abusing alcohol or drugs, and suffering from a mental disorder.

Because the holidays are around the corner, there will be parties, family gatherings and year-end projects that must be finished, all stressors particularly to individuals who have substance abuse medical issues. We write this blog as a reminder to employers to review the laws concerning substance abuse in the workplace, and in the case of our law firm clients, avoid a potential professional liability action. Governing this topic is an interplay of both federal and California law. To review your rights as employer, and to increase your chances of avoiding a disability discrimination lawsuit, look to the federal and state statutes and regulations found in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Federal Family Medical Leave Act, EEOC regulations, […]