Ethical Scenario Commentary on “Drinking on the Job”

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Our September scenario, “Drinking on the Job”, is about a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) training instructor who abused alcohol in the workplace and occasionally would belligerently act out towards trainees. He denied having any problems when you, his colleague and friend, approached him.

The instructor’s behaviour is a form of  misconduct due to alcoholism, which is a violation of Defence Administrative Orders and Directives (DOAD) 5019-7, Alcohol Misconduct. The DOAD states “a CAF member who engages in alcohol misconduct is liable to criminal, disciplinary and administrative action, including release”. 

An employee and colleague struggling with alcoholism or substance abuse can affect everyone in the work place. It is clear that his drinking habits are already negatively affecting his professionalism, quality of work and ability to perform.

As a friend and colleague, you were in a good position to approach him.

It is clear that this instructor cannot continue working without timely assistance as there is a risk for the organization, the member and those around him.. There is  cause for  concerns of self-harm and criminal complications if this behaviour is not addressed.

As a CAF member, you have a duty to report the violation  of DOAD 5019-7 to the Military Police or a delegate of the Judge Advocate General. Department of National Defence employees can inform their supervisors if faced with the same situation.

Your best argument at this juncture is to make it clear to your friend and colleague that if he does not immediately and drastically change his behaviour, you will have to intervene directly with the authorities – which will have less desirable results for him.

You could offer to support him no matter what the outcome and the gesture may be appreciated. Other forms of intervention could involve, in part, counselling with a therapist in order to determine what other factors in the person’s life may be behind his attempt to self-medicate.

If he fails to accept your offer, you must fulfill your duty to report in compliance with  the Queens Rules and Orders Volume 1 4.02e or Volume 1 5.02e, which state: “report to the proper authority any infringement of the pertinent statutes, regulations, rules, orders and instructions governing the conduct of any person subject to the Code of Service Discipline”

The first principle of the DND and CF Code of Values and Ethics is to “Respect the Dignity of All Persons.” The application of this principle is two-fold in this case. While his actions are disrespectful to his co-workers and students, his friend should seek to intervene in a way that respects the dignity of the person with the problem. 

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