Dear Blue Collar,
One of our guys, known to be a heavy drinker, was injured on the job after consuming alcoholic beverages. WCB accepted the claim. What’s the deal?
Answer: Despite being under the influence, if the worker returned to his duties and was subsequently injured, the claim is normally compensable. And where a worker has a history of alcoholism, employers are obligated to accommodate that disability to a point of undue hardship.
Reasonable accommodation normally will involve granting leave to attend a detox or rehab 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 due to impaired driving.
In your case, assuming the worker’s disability is valid, reasonable accommodation could include, amongst other things, transportation to and from work. Seek help from an experienced WCB consultant if you feel the demands made upon you are unreasonable.