Alcohol is a problem drug. Along with disease and colonial expansion, it destroyed Native American civilisation, and it doesn’t do many wonders for European and post-European civilisations either. Certainly alcohol can also destroy careers as well, and many a rising star has been brought low by it. Legally, employers cannot actually fire people simply for being addicted to drugs or alcohol. In fact, they’re actually required on some level to offer support and medication, including access to private alcohol addiction rehab clinics, before any contracts are terminated.
This is because drug and alcohol addictions are considered, legally, to be disabilities, and as such are covered by disability protection laws.
Of course, there are points at which this grace can be cut off. It would, after all, be damaging to the business to keep on an employee who was destructively addicted to a given substance.
It’s often the case now that employers include policies with their human resources department that allow their employers to disclose and seek assistance with their addictions without fear of dismissal. This can be done under said employee’s own volition, although more usually this happens after an incident related to the addiction occurs within the workplace.
That said, employers do not need to suffer the damage and frustration of an employee who refuses to attend private alcohol addiction rehabs, or else refuses to take in what they pick up there. While the rights of the individual employee of course deserve to be respected, there are legal limits and constraints that can give you some breathing room.
For example, a case in Alberta, Canada, in which a drunken lorry driver caused an accident after taking drugs. Upon being tested positive for cocaine, he was dismissed by his employers. However because he had not disclosed his addiction to his employers, even when admitted to other addictions and seeking assistance for those, he was unable to successfully challenge the dismissal in court. Instead it was found that he was dismissed not because of his disability, but because he had disregarded the company’s drug and alcohol policies. The Court of the Queen’s Bench in Alberta had, effectively, dismissed the case of the truck driver’s dismissal.
As a result there are ways in which problematic employees can be released without damaging lawsuits following close behind, while at the same time the rights of the employee are still adequately protected. After all, recovery and private alcohol addiction rehabs require active effort. If they are disregarded, that is not fault of the company.