Boss Said I Smelled Of Alcohol in the Workplace


My boss said to me that he smelled alcohol on my breath.It was the afternoon when he said this and said it was in the morning he smelled it. He never said anything in the morning, but I am worried about where it may go and what rights I have because I did not have any excess alcohol the previous evening.




Dear Worried:

I’m sorry, we’re not a legal site, but I think I can provide some thoughts that might be helpful. Apparently your boss didn’t allege you were intoxicated, just that he could smell alcohol on your breath. I’ve spoken about that with people too. Many clients, customers or coworkers find it offensive or obnoxious to smell stale alcoholic drinks–and, unfortunately, it DOES smell like someone was on a bender the night before! So, your boss’s comment may have been made to remind you of the odor issue or it might have been checking to see if you’re having a problem with alcohol abuse. That would especially be the case if he’s smelled it before or if someone else complained.

Try this: Talk to him or write to him and say how worried you’ve been about this because you would never want someone to think you had a problem with alcohol or that your breath smelled offensive.

Say that you are going to make sure it never happens again by severely limiting your dinner-time drinking on weeknights and only drinking early in the evening.

I’m assuming you are concerned enough to want to write or talk that seriously to your boss about it. He may shrug it off at this point or may say he appreciates your comments. OR, he may counsel (or lecture) you a bit if he’s really concerned.

If this is the first time it’s happened that you know of and nothing was done at the time, your explanation should take care of it. If you are still concerned when the conversation is over, ask your boss if there is going to be any further action about it. You might as well find out! Best wishes to you with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.