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Sterling Employment Law

Are Detroit firefighters violating employment contracts by drinking on the job?

A Detroit news station has made several salacious allegations in a recent report about whether Detroit firefighters drink on the job.

In many fields of work, abstaining from alcohol while on the clock is expressly demanded in employment agreements or employment contracts. If an employee violates his or her pact not to drink when he or she is working, the employer will often terminate the employee without even considering the possibility of a second chance; that's how serious companies are about not mixing alcohol and work these days.

Naturally, you would expect that firefighters would not be allowed to drink when they're working. After all , they are responsible for our safety and we can't have them in an impaired state when they're supposed to be looking out for the public's well-being.

However, a TV news station recently ran a report in which the reporter talked to several (anonymous) sources, who claimed that drinking is tolerated in Detroit's firehouses.

Detroit's Fire Commissioner Donald Austin made a statement to the reporter that drinking is not tolerated among firefighters and that any "culture of acceptance" toward drinking while at work would end under his watch.

The reporter and his sources may not realize it, but claims of drinking on the job are very serious and may wind up costing people their jobs. We don't know if what the reporter alleged is true, but we certainly hope that he has been careful and diligent in investigating the claims of these sources. You simply can't toss claims about drinking at work around in a carefree manner.

Source: WXYZ-TV, "7 Action News Investigations Exposes Detroit firefighters' dirty little secret; drinking on the job," Scott Lewis, May 15, 2012

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