Pot and Pottery don’t Mix

This story is from RestauantOwners.com:

“I recently fired a cook for actively smoking marijuana on the job. He went outside loaded up a bowl, and smoked it up. He was witnessed by a neighboring business, and two of my staff. When I asked him if he did it, he acknowledged he did. I asked if he remembered signing an employee handbook that advised him that any use of illegal drugs or alcohol on the job would (not may) result in termination. He did. Cut and dry right?

He, of course, filed for unemployment. The reason he stated he was fired was for violation of company policy. I filled out the form and sent it back with a detailed rationale and documentation.

Last week I got a call from the Employment Department asking for a copy of my handbook. They were concerned because I hadn’t specifically stated WHICH illegal drugs were grounds for termination. I countered with ALL ILLEGAL DRUGS because they are ILLEGAL.

She explained that I needed to define which specific drugs were illegal because it’s possible that because we neighbor a state in which marijuana IS legal, the employee didn’t realize it wasn’t okay. I explained that EVERYONE knows marijuana is not legal. That is why you cannot purchase it at places like Safeway.

I was advised that as an employer, I “cannot assume that the employee has culpability if they are ignorant of the law”.

Now, I get to spend another hour or so on a phone hearing disputing his unemployment – which he was AWARDED – so that my unemployment rates won’t go up even more. To be clear, I don’t care what my employees do on their off time – but this guy didn’t even bother to clock out for his high.

Advice to all – adjust your employee handbooks NOW and advise staff individually about what they can and cannot do at work. Make them sign a form acknowledging they have been given the information and keep immaculate records.”

Good advice. Now may be a good time to review and update all your employee policies and handbook.