Can i be fired for a single off the job beer?

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Can i be fired for a single off the job beer?

I have been recently put on paid leave pending investigation. I work at a pre-release center and give daily breathalyzer tests to inmates. An inmate was reported to have been drinking during his job hours off site, and so I arrived to give him an on site BA. He was very panicked and looked obviously guilty. However, when I gave the BA he passed with 0.00. I immediately suspected a faulty breathalyzer. So a few days later I had a single beer off shift with my dinner. I came in an hour and a half before my shift to test whether or not the breathalyzer was working. I blew a .013 verifying that the breathalyzer was indeed working. However it was discovered during routine testing that the other breathalyzer was not working, and was sent out of state to be repaired. Furthermore, the inmate in question failed a breathalyzer when the machine was returned from the repair and was immediately placed in jail. My boss pulled me into his office a month later and asked about why I had blown into a breathalyzer. I informed him of the situation and he told me it was inappropriate to be ‘under the influence’ in the workplace and this was very serious. He then made a call to higher up who informed him to place me on paid leave while I was under investigation. Can I be fired for this and is it in my best interest to seek council if I am relieved of my job?

Asked on January 10, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Montana

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

As an "at will" worker, you could have been terminated for the reason that you state but also for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. That is unless your treatment constituted some form of legally actionable discrimination/retaliation or it violated the terms of an employment contract/union agreement. Absent that, a company can set the condition of the employment much as it sees fit.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you have a written employment contract including a union or collective bargaining agreement, you have whatever rights that agreement gives you. However, if you do not have a written employment contract, you are an employee at will and may be terminated (or suspended, demoted, transferred, etc.) at any time, for any reason whatsoever--including an off-premises or not-on-the-job beer. An employer at will has essentially no rights to his or her job and can lose it at any time.


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