I wasn't drunk at work

I got called into the boss’s office at 4:30 today. I’ve worked there for 14 years but he is new. He said someone reported that I appeared to be drunk when I walked into the building at 8:30 this morning because I was not walking straight. Later this same unknown person said I was drunk because my speech was slurred. The boss won’t tell me who my accuser is.

I am 64 years old and have some vision problems so I have problems walking in a parking lot with the sun in my eyes and I need to dodge the stones and holes (I would prefer not to fall). I also was injured in an accident three years ago when I nearly bit my upper lip off. It was reattached in the ER but I have a problem sometimes with my speech and as a result part of my upper lip is numb so sometimes when I am tired or careless, my speech is slurred.

My accuser is anonymous. Short of taking a Breathalyzer test everyday what else can be done. When the boss called me in, he let it slip that he had snooped my desk for booze while I was out to lunch. I will probably still appear to stager in the parking lot and I can’t fix my speech. How can I fight this?

You could get a note from your doctor explaining the medical cause of the slurred speach and submit it to them with a signed letter stating that you do not drink before or during work hours.

Have any interest in retiring?

I would think the first step would be to get a letter from your doctor documenting your medical issues. That may well stop this in its tracks. If not, I think it’d be lawyer time.

He searched your desk over an anonymous accusation? What a jerk.

Demand to know who the accuser is. If there are future false allegations, try dropping hints about legal action for slander.

Find out froma a lawyer if it’s acceptable, without notice, for someone, even the boss, to go through your desk. I mean, it is company space, so to speak, and I suppose that they could come to you, with witnesses, and ask you to open the desk. But it’s wrong you weren’t present.

You shouldn’t have to, but get a copy of your medical file, from the physican that oversaw your accident “repairs” and have it handy.

How old is the boss? Is he a young snot that doesn’t know anything about aging?

Thanks guys for the advice. Keep it coming and yes, he is a young snot.

Could it be there was no accuser, and he’s trying to get you out, so the company doesn’t have to pay your retirement?
This sort of thing has happened several times where my husband works. A few have sued and the company paid up immediately. I guess the money they save on the ones who don’t fight is worth paying for the one’s who do.

Bring medical evidence documenting the causes for your behavior. Consult an attorney. Let the boss know that your attorney would be very interested to hear how he is not making allowances for your medical conditions if he persists? That ought to keep the young snot at bay. I might go so far as to notify his supervisor that he needs sensitivity training to better understand the needs of some of his employees. Good luck.

In my state, it’s perfectly legal. Still not something I’d do without a damn good reason, but I wouldn’t be risking arrest if I did have to search a desk, or an office, or anything else that belongs to my employer. I could see a potential for a union raising hell about it, if there was some violation of a provision about such things in a collective bargaining agreement.

Dropping hints about legal action is more likely to piss somebody off. If you want a lawyer, get one…but let the lawyer do the talking. This is why you pay a lawyer.

My gut says that it’s your boss who is the “anonymous” accuser. Do not make threats about legal action. Get a signed note from your doctor. If you feel really concerned, talk to a lawyer.

Depending upon how big your company is, you might want to bring HR into this thing, too. They, of all people, should understand how close your boss is to trampling over the Americans with Disabilities Act and age discrimination issues.

I accede to Punoqllads knowledge. I do think you ought to consult an attorney, at the least document the incident.

I would not rumble about lawsuits. If you live in an “at will” state they could decide that you are a threat and find a way to bump you out.

What is your relationship with the boss’s boss? Can you ask the higher guy to intercede? (Or, perhaps, sound out the higher guy to discover whether he is part of a scheme to let you go before retirement?)

If you have access to e-mail in the company, e-mail your boss with a VERY NEUTRAL summary of the meeting he had with you, copied to HR, expressing your hope that he is now satisfied with your situation, since he did not find alcohol after searching your desk, did not smell it on you in the meeting, and you have no history of problems other than the specific physical traumas you have suffered. (Then print off the e-mail and print out the functional receipts and take them home with you as the initial documentation of the events. If he or HR responds, print out that e-mail and take it home, as well.)

Even without e-mail you might consider sending him a note, copied to HR, but you will find it more difficult to prove that you sent and he received it if it all goes up in flames, later.

He’s full of it. He waited 8 hours to act on it? That doesn’t seem reasonable if he was truely worried about intoxication. No, he wants to start building a case against you for termination. Find an employment lawyer ASAP. Document everything.

Another avenue to pursue, if this continues, is to contact the EEOC. Cases like this are their bread and butter. I also second everything that tomndebb said. A document trail is your bestest friend in situations like this.

Palikia. It’s tough enough to get old without having jerks get in your face too. :slight_smile:

I’m moving this one to IMHO, rather than leave it in General Questions. It wasn’t wrong to perhaps start it there, but it’s really more about asking for informed opinions on what your options are.

Moved from General Questions. samclem GQ moderator

You just say that because you’re getting old.

EEOC might not be the best way to go if OP wants any action this decade. Seems they have a backlog.

Find a coworker that knows you slur, have them side with you, that might help.
Are you retiring soon? Maybe they don’t want to pay out and this is their way of easing you out?
OTOH maybe it will never come up again.

Sounds crappy no matter what, sorry this is happing.

I also think it’s age discrimination.
They had a guy here in the building who’d worked for 27 years. Yes, it was most definitely time to retire him. Yes, he wasn’t doing that great of a job.

But instead of retiring him, they acted on an “anonymous tip” and called security on his ass. They stormed down here, rifled through his desk, grabbed him by both arms - I saw this part - and dragged him out to his car, which they searched.

In his car they found a toolkit and repair manuals. Yeah, well, he was taking care of three different site so he had to drive back and forth from them, so kept his things in the car.

They used this as grounds for dismissal, though, and now no longer have to pay a pension or anything.

Granted, the story could be different than it seems…but it sure does seem like they were kicking him out on his ass. Especially as the next day they’d hired a young 26 YO.

So cover your ass, and good luck.

(Continuing the story, the young guy quit in three weeks to work some place else. The next building manager also quit. And the one after that didn’t quit but had a heart attack and has been in and out of the hospital. So no luck for the company either. Tony at least was here all the time!)

I’m not sure I fully agree.
Were the manager building a case for termination, he wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) have approached the employee until he’d built a solid case to actually fire the guy. Since the the manager found no hard evidence to support the claim, then it may very well that the Palikia’s boss has a sincere concern about him.

But, I do agree that you should cover your hiney. Document everything.