Last week I received a rather unusual call from a good friend who is a VP of HR at a well-known company outside of Atlanta. It seems that Sheryl (not her real name) had been the recipient of an email from an employee in another department. This employee’s email contained info on someone else at the company- who had been arrested for a DUI. Sheryl said that the email entitled “FYI” essentially contained information that the employee had been arrested 2 weeks previously for a DUI and just “thought she should know.” Now, she and I both know that when people send “just for your info only” emails- they rarely are that simple. Her real concern was what if anything she was obligated to do about the DUI arrest. She confirmed to me that this employee’s role at the job did not obligate him to drive for the company, and his position was not senior enough so as to create any kind of PR nightmare. We talked a bit further, I gave her some advice, and she wisely was planning on consulting with legal before making any moves.
Our conversation sparked up a lively debate between myself and a few other leaders at a recent conference. Apparently while there are many opinions on this subject, there are few who have experienced this enough to know how to handle it. Okay, so how should you handle an employee who is arrested for a DUI? Here are three possible things to do:
Beyond these points, the employer may need to determine if this is just a one time arrest, or if the employee may be suffering from alcoholism, which could be considered a disability. Also, will the employer be held liable if the employee consumed an inordinate amount of alcohol on the premises (think office party, company sponsored happy hour, etc.), and the employee then left and was arrested for DUI? There are no cut or dry answers to what to do if your employee is arrested for DUI. The best advice I can give is to focus on the facts FIRST before making any decisions. Please note that this advice is informational only and as always, seek competent legal advice from an employment attorney prior to making any decisions.