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Drug Use Washington

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  • Drug Use Washington

    I just had an employee tell me that her and several other ladies in the office suspect that another lady in the office is using drugs. They claim to have heard what sounded like chopping and snorting coming from one of the stalls in the ladies room. This female employee has also been acting suspiciously. In addition, we have reports of theft of money and prescription drugs from desks near where this person sit.

    While our company does have a policy against the use of drugs, we do not have any type of policy regarding random drug tests. What is the appropriate course of action at this point?

    Dave

  • #2
    Aside from a bona fide contract preventing such testing, you are free to ask her to test.

    Comment


    • #3
      I wouldn't single her out, though.

      Say that you have a zero tolerance policy and you are going to enforce it. Say that drug tests, random or with reason, will be conducted as you see fit.
      Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

      I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

      Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd be investigating the thefts asap. While you can send an employee for a test whether you have an established policy or not, it is not a great employee relations move. Have you addressed the irradic behavior? What do you mean have she is acting suspiciously?
        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have to disagree with Elle and cyjeff.

          With cyjeff because this would not be a random, it is potentially a reasonable suspicion.

          I would conduct a full blown investigation. Have everyone write statements of every single detail of every incident. For example, those who had the money go missing. When did you last see the money? How much was the money? How can you be certain that your spouse, child, etc. didn't take the money prior to your departure from home? When did you notice it missing? What were the denominations? Where in your purse was it located? Did you see anyone out of the ordinary in your work area? If so, what was their purpose there? Did you give anyone permission to go into your desk? Into your purse? Does anyone frequently go into your desk, and they don't need your permission?...and have them pose answers to all of these questions, in the form of a narrative. Leave out no detail whatsoever.

          If this person has an addiction to prescription pills, and was crushing them up and snorting them, you are likely screwed in getting a positive drug screen result. Here is why. If the person likes scripts, then likely in the last year, they have gotten one legitimately, or at least this is my experience through 30 year drug addict parents, multiple other addict realtives, HR/Safety profession, and foster parenting. Let's say she gets some Hydrocodone for a kidney/yeast infection. Anytime during the next year, if she is tested, the MRO will have no choice but to report that as a negative screen for opiates if she produces that script because the script is in her name, and is valid for an entire year.

          I have had theft issues involving money, as well as my husband at a former employer. At my work, we booby trapped a purse with gentian violet. She disappeared suddenly, and didn't return....I guess not with that stuff all on her hands. I'm not saying it was the best idea, but it worked.

          At my husband's work, this guy had a habit of stealing the largest bill from the till. Hubby baited the till with some counterfeit hundred dollar bills. The guy was arrested for passing the counterfeit on his lunch break. I also don't recommend this, but it worked for him.

          I disagree with Elle in this case regarding employee relations. With multiple people complaining, and her displaying erratic behavior, it is just not a very smart move to allow her to go untested. If what Elle was speaking of was very generally, then I would agree with her, but not in this particular case.

          I would approach her, and give her an opportunity to volunteer to clear her name. If she doesn't volunteer, then you need to volunteer her!

          Comment


          • #6
            My point was that, right now, all we have is heresay on who is doing what.

            My experience has taught me that sometimes the people that are doing the most wrong are the first to point fingers at others.

            By instituting a company wide policy (of course including the person of interest in the first round), we could get to the true root of the problem.

            I have to also say that I have had good luck with telling folks the testing would begin in a couple of days. Folks with the most to worry about just never showed up again.
            Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

            I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

            Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.

            Comment


            • #7
              I would not try to frame someone for counterfeiting or boobytrap anything. There just isn't a need and it has every potential to backfire.

              My warning against suddenly sending someone for testing is more general. We don't know that all employees think this person is using, just that a few have suspicions. Further, if the employer has that much reason to suspect, they do not have to have absolute proof. They can just terminate. I woudn't send someone for testing unless I had a lot more to go by than rumor. If those who reported the behavior were trustworthy and other reasons to believe this person was acting approriately, there is reason enough to terminate even without the proof. If you are wrong, and don't have a policy, I don't expect this person would care much to remain working for you if you send them for a test based in rumor. Bottom line, I see little to gain in forcing a test.
              I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ElleMD View Post
                I would not try to frame someone for counterfeiting or boobytrap anything. There just isn't a need and it has every potential to backfire.

                My warning against suddenly sending someone for testing is more general. We don't know that all employees think this person is using, just that a few have suspicions. Further, if the employer has that much reason to suspect, they do not have to have absolute proof. They can just terminate.
                Like I said, bad ideas, but they worked. I really do agree with you that the potential for backfire is huge.

                To one of YOUR original points regarding employee relations. I don't feel that simply terminating someone without giving them an opportunity to clear themselves is a wise move either. That can send a really bad message, especially to those that felt comfortable enough to complain to management. Second, it can send the wrong message. Message is if we can drum up enough complaints against someone we don't like, they'll just fire them without giving them a chance.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Unless you have a contract to the contrary, you can require an employee to take a drug test if you have good reason to believe that they are under the influence of drugs at any time while on the job. However, in this case it might just be rumors. What did you mean by employee was acting suspiciously?
                  Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                  Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                  Comment

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