Thank you for the information and your question. Alabama is an employment "at will
" state. That means that you, and the employee, can terminate the employment arrangement for any, or no, reason and with no notice or warning unless the termination
would violate an employment contract
, company policy or an employment discrimination
I assume that this is not a contractual job. Therefore the only two issues standing in your way of immediate termination for the issues you describe are your policies and discrimination laws. In other words, there is no law in Alabama that ever has stated you must give warnings prior to termination. However, by doing so you have created an implied contract/policy for your employees that they can use to say they are entitled to warnings prior to termination. In that case, you must follow your written policy or your regular routine when it comes to the number of warnings that are given prior to termination and be consistent. If you give all employees who have received warnings, 180 probationary letter, then the same must be done with this employee. However, unless your policies give them that right, you should reconsider creating it because then you have completely created a contractual relationship where you cannot terminate an employee "at will."
In this case, I understand that this employee went to rehab, which might or might not qualify them under the ADA
against discrimination. However, if an employee commits misconduct, no amount of protection under discrimination laws would require that an employer retain them, as long as the employer is consistent. That is the way in which employers get into legal trouble--inconsistency.
So, I don't know what your policies say, but unless you have never terminated an employee for cause or give all employees 180 probationary periods, you should think twice about giving one to this employee. If they violate clear workplace rules again, you can terminate them. They don't have to be continually warned.
What I might suggest, is that you sit down with a local employment law
firm and have them go over your employee policies with you and draft up a simple policy manual or handbook
that clearly states that employment is "at will" and no one is entitled to stepped discipline, warnings or probation. That is up to you, but it will give you more leeway and running your company.
Please let me know if you have any specific follow up questions. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.