A television station’s control room supervisor checks into a clinic for rehabilitation. His treatment last six weeks, during which time he is unable to go to work. In the first week of the treatment, the station manager demotes him to a position on the third-shift sanitation crew.
Upon returning to work, the former supervisor explains to a couple of employees who ask him that he was a cocaine addict. He adds that his treatment was successful and that he is 100 percent drug- and cocaine-free. Over the next several weeks, these employees stop calling him by his name and, instead, call him “druggie.”
Several weeks later, the former supervisor destroys a $4,000 piece of equipment when he’s trying to move it in order to clean under it. The station manager sends him for a drug test, which he fails. As a result, he is terminated.
1. Was the station manager within his rights to demote the control room supervisor while he was in the rehabilitation clinic?
2. Can the station be held liable for its employees calling him a “druggie”? What if they never said it to his face, but said it to co-employees when he was not present? Can the employees be held personally liable?
3. What if, after being terminated, the former supervisor applies for another position at the station? Assuming he is the most qualified for the position, does the station have to hire him? What if the station does not have a no-rehire policy for employees that have previously been terminated?