An obvious piece of advice for federal employees is that you should not drink alcohol on the job or come to work drunk. As obvious as this wisdom may seem, however, there are instances where even federal employees drink on the job or come to work drunk, which is why federal agencies can discipline employees for Alcohol: Possession, Use, or Impairment.
To prove Possession or Use, an agency must show that: (1) the employee possessed or used alcohol; (2) the possession or use was wrongful in that it was not off duty or was on lunch; and(3) any test or search used to detect alcohol was valid and constitutional if alcohol was detected in such a manner and the employee raises the argument. To prove impairment, an agency must show that: (1) there is evidence of impairment, such as difficulty in performing duties; and (2) any test or search to detect alcohol was valid and constitutional, again if alcohol was detected in such manner and the employee raises the argument.
Defenses include arguing that the agency did not prove both parts of a conjunctive charge of Use and Possession, arguing constitutional issues with the search or test, arguing that the employee did not have dominion and control over the alcohol, arguing that chain of custody was not proven. It is important to note that alcoholism, though it is considered a disability, is not a defense to this charge. The penalty may be mitigated, however, if an employee took efforts to remedy a drinking problem. The fact that an agency condoned possession, use, or impairment or engaged in disparate treatment may also mitigate the penalty.
The attorneys at Melville Johnson, P.C., as federal employment attorneys, are highly experienced in federal sector employment matters such as these, and are willing and able to assist you in your federal employment legal matters. Contact us today 404-724-0000.