ARBITRATION DECISIONS IN EMPLOYMENT TERMINATION CASES INVOLVING SUBSTANCE USE OR POSSESSION: THE RELATIVE EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL VERSUS NARCOTICS CHARGES
Arbitration (through the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925, subsequent federal labor-management legislation, and federal court rulings) is a prominent part of labor-management relations in the United States (Hayford, 2000; Feller, 1998). Among the more contentious cases committed to arbitration are those involving employee termination. Approximately 18 percent of all labor arbitration cases involve employee termination (Mesch & Shamayeva, 1996).
Among the many employee behaviors motivating termination actions by employers is on-the-job substance use or possession. For decades, on-the-job alcohol use or possession was the primary substance implicated in such cases. The growth in the use of illegal narcotics in recent years, however, created an environment of near parity between alcohol and narcotics as the basis for on-the-job substance use or possession employment termination cases (Gilman, 2001). Some social commentators charge that, because of the war on drugs, charges of using or possessing narcotics on-the-job are more likely than charges of on-the-job alcohol use or possession to result in employment termination (Miranda, 1998).
This study examined decisions in formal arbitration proceedings involving employment termination cases based on employee on-the-job alcohol or narcotics use or