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March 29 2016

Results of alcohol test do not automatically justify dismissal

Under French employment law, the issue of alcohol consumption at the workplace is taken very seriously as it could entail significant risks, not only for the employee and his|her colleagues, but also for the company in general.
Moreover, the employer is bound by a duty of care towards its employees and is required by the French Labour code to prevent employees under the influence of alcohol from working on the company's premises.
In this context, case law permits employers to have recourse to breathalyzer devices in orders to control the alcohol blood level of their employees, particularly where this is justified by the nature of the position held by the employees and provided that it is implemented under the company's internal regulations, which must be implemented pursuant to a specific procedure and provide for means by which the employees can challenge the results of the test.
Against this framework, would an employer be entitled to invoke the results of an alcohol test if the internal regulations providing for such tests have not been implemented according to the procedure relating to the introduction of internal regulations? A recent decision by the Supreme Court answered no.