Duty of care owed to employees with addiction

Dear Blue Collar,

To what extent are employers required to accommodate addiction? One of our guys had his driver’s license revoked and he tells me I’m somehow responsible for his transportation. Would you clarify?

Answer: Where a worker has a demonstrable history of alcoholism, employers are obligated to accommodate that disability to a point of undue hardship. Reasonable accommodation normally will involve granting appropriate leave to attend a detoxification or rehabilitation program. However, the onus is on the employee to prove that he’s substantially limited in his ability to walk, talk, think, or work as a consequence of uncontrolled drinking.

Bear in mind that employers are not required to tolerate off-the-job, alcohol-related misconduct that may affect an employee’s ability to do his or her duties. If a job requires a driver’s license, for example, an employer would be permitted to terminate an alcoholic employee who lost a driver’s license as a result of a conviction for driving under the influence.

In your case, assuming the worker’s disability is valid, reasonable accommodation could include transportation—to a point of undue hardship. Seek a legal opinion if you feel the demands made upon you are unreasonable.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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About Me

Ben Barfett, Principal and Consultant, has spent his life in the construction sector, specifically heavy civil, enviro, commercial, and energy. Having held senior roles in business development, technical advisory, and regional management, he earned his stripes in the field and in head office. Conscious of the interplay between commercial, legal, and execution aspects of construction, his business insights are informed by expertise in WCB policy and enhanced with disability-specific training. 

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Blue Collar Consulting

Blue Collar Consulting is a WCB and disability management firm. The company specializes in rapid and affordable disability solutions that advance current claims, contain the cost of future claims, and get injured workers back on their feet. 

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