Is it legal for a manager to ask an employee if they thought another employee was under the influence?

I got sick at work today and requested that I go home. After being at home one of my co-workers discloses that the branch manager had asked another co-worker if I was using drugs. Is that legal, considering the problem was never brought to me attention?

Asked on July 21, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

So long as your employer did not make any untrue statements that you were in fact on drugs, then simply asking co-workers if it was a possibility is legal. If they had made an erronoeus factual assertion that you were a drug user, they could potentially be sued for defamation. However, in your case, your employer was merely inquiring about your condition. This is something that they would have a right to ask about as having an employee under the influence of drugs or alchol in the workplace would be of a legitimate concern. For example, due to safety concerns which could expose the employer to liability issues, etc.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

So long as your employer did not make any untrue statements that you were in fact on drugs, then simply asking co-workers if it was a possibility is legal. If they had made an erronoeus factual assertion that you were a drug user, they could potentially be sued for defamation. However, in your case, your employer was merely inquiring about your condition. This is something that they would have a right to ask about as having an employee under the influence of drugs or alchol in the workplace would be of a legitimate concern. For example, due to safety concerns which could expose the employer to liability issues, etc.


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