Last month, several employees of the Atlanta water department were accused of drinking on the job. According to authorities, the drinking continues, Fox News reports.
In early July, a whistleblower came forward and alleged that several city workers were drinking and smoking pot while operating city-owned vehicles and heavy machinery. Gary Blackwell, one of the accused employees, was fired over the accusations. Blackwell's termination apparently didn't make a strong enough impression because a number of water department employees are reportedly still drinking on the job.
The whistleblower allegedly witnessed Blackwell stop for a beer while on the clock. Blackwell then reportedly operated heavy machinery and drove a city truck while drinking the beer. According to the whistleblower, drinking on the job is widespread in the city's water department and managers are aware of the problem.
Under Georgia's DUI law, it's illegal for anyone to drive with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. A first DUI conviction is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000, 10 days to 12 months in prison, at least 40 hours of community service, and completion of an alcohol or drug use risk reduction program. It's also illegal to drive with an open container of alcohol anywhere in the passenger compartment.
The city fired Blackwell for the incident, but apparently the termination didn't send a strong enough message. City council members are still getting complaints about city workers drinking on the job and they want to know why, reports Fox News.
Atlanta Commissioner of Human Resources, Yvonne Cowser Yancey, told city council members last week that the human resource department has begun instituting drug and alcohol testing of the city's night-shift employees. However, the testing hasn't been particularly effective.
Last week, a mobile testing lab was sent out to the pipe yard where the whistleblower worked, but was sent back at around mid-afternoon. According to Fox News, workers from the day shift notified workers on the evening shift about the testing, telling them not to come in to work. As a result, a number of the workers from the city's water department called in sick.
"Is it possible for someone to game the system? It's always possible but we think this new process is sort of closing some of the loops," Yvonne Cowser Yancey said. The city council has asked commissioners and deputy commissioners to begin conducting surprise alcohol tests on night-shift employees of certain departments.