Is it legal to require a recovering alcoholic to sign a form that if they drink at company event’s, they will be terminated?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal to require a recovering alcoholic to sign a form that if they drink at company event’s, they will be terminated?

I battled with alcoholism for many
years, and I have been in recovery for
three plus years. As a requirement for
my employment, I was to sign a letter
stating that if I consumed alcohol, I
would be terminated. Alcohol is at most
offsite Company events, and as far as I
know, no other employees were required
such a letter. They learned of my
alcoholism through the pre-employment
criminal background screening.

Asked on August 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not legal to single you out for this treatment because of your alcoholism: since alcoholism is a "disability" for employment law purposes, the law prohibits the employer from discriminating against (or singling you out) on this basis. They can't make only you sign this, or fire only you for drinking at a company event. If they do, you may well have an employment discrimination claim, and should contact the federal EEOC.
What they can legally do is:
1) Ban alcohol at company events--since that effects everyone (no discrimination); and/or 
2) Tell ALL employees that if they are or get drunk at a company event or in the workplace and are as a result are insubordinate or act in a dangerous or embarrasing to the company fashion, they will be fired--this would be taking action based on employee *conduct* (being drunk and acting out), not just having a condition, and it is legal to take employment action based on conduct, even if a medical condition contributed to the conduct.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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