Is drinking in the parking lot a dischargeable offense?

The policy manual was clear that the penalty for the possession or drinking of alcoholic beverages on company premises was immediate dismissal.

01/01/2000


The policy manual was clear that the penalty for the possession or drinking of alcoholic beverages on company premises was immediate dismissal. Nonetheless, some maintenance department employees showed signs of intoxication during working hours, although none were caught imbibing on the job.

At a meeting of Maintenance Foreman Chuck Vernon, his assistant, and three group leaders, it was decided to pull a surprise locker search. When this yielded no results, arrangements were made to stake out the plant parking lot in an effort to catch the miscreants. Before long, utility workers Ed Pincus and Joe Kennedy were apprehended drinking gin in Kennedy's car during their break period. They refused to take a Breathalyzer test and were unsteady on their feet.

"You guys are gone," Vernon said. "Your final checks will be mailed to you."

"No way!" Kennedy replied. "The manual specifies discharge for drinking on premises. All we did was take a nip or two on our break period. It wasn't even on the job; we were outside the plant."

Question: In your opinion, can Vernon make the dismissal stick?

Rubin's verdict: "The termination holds," Plant Engineer Leo Rubin ruled. "For one thing, those men were clearly under the influence during working hours. For another, the parking lot is no less company property than the plant itself."





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