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[u][b]Situation[/b][/u]: New random drug program catches an employee on the first random. Upper management feels policy is too harsh for this employee, and having him test positive is "damned inconvienent" and disruptive to day-to-day business. Some in upper management want to "water down" the policy. Senior management feels that the policy is harming this employee's livelihood and career.

I am a "sometimes" advisor to upper management on HR-related issues. On this issue I am directly involved because I'm trying to enlighten upper management to the risks of not following their own policy, and the risks of making case-by-case exceptions to it. One senior manager supports my position; one opposes it, and the CEO/owner is most influenced by my opponent, and sees the issue only from the hardship imposed on the "positive" employee.

Our drug program consultant agrees with me, but the CEO will not return their calls to discuss it. The company's outside attorney agrees with me. I have not passed this information up because of the refusal of the CEO to return calls to our drug program consultant.

Catch-22: If I continue to push the CEO/owner he is going to get angry that I am interferring with him operating the company as he sees fit, which is the position of my opponent on this issue. (P.S. - my opponent is my boss).

I feel I have an ethical responsibility to get all the issues out in the open so the executives can make an informed decision. Once I do this should I disengage and let them make decisions that significantly increases the liability to the company?

jhack's picture

Touchy subject. Are you an ethicist? Are you qualified to step in here, where conflicts between Legalistic and Situational Ethical frameworks will unveil deep differences in personal belief systems?

You could create real, deep personal rifts. Your ethics may not be theirs.

Why do feel so strongly about this?

There is also the issue of the appropriateness of the policy. Since we don't know what your employees do (airline pilots? graphic designers?) or why you instituted the policy, it's hard to say whether the policy should be watered down or even shut down.

Remember: It's about performance. What actions will lead to better company performance overall?

John

stephenbooth_uk's picture

Largely agree with John.

How much do you know about this situation?

Do you know what he tested positive for?

How sure are you that it wasn't a false positive, drug tests (especially urine dips, the most commonly used in corporate random testing) are notorious for getting false positives due to reacting to over the counter medications (I've not checked it but apparently the anti-histamine I have to take every day can cause false positives on tests for cocaine, I guess that pseudo-ephidrine (aka 'Sudafed', a common over the counter decongestant) could cause a false positive for 'Crank' as it's one of the major ingredients) and even foods (mostly due to additives in snacks). When one of my past employers tried to institute a random drugs screening policy a document swiftly circulated around pretty much everyone by email that listed all the foods, over the counter medications and prescription medications that could cause a false positive, at least a third of the products available from the vending machines in the break room were on the list. The policy was swiftly dropped.

Is there a health and safety issue here? As John indicated a positive result for an airline pilot (or train driver, truck driver or fork lift truck operator) is more of a concern than a graphic designer. You're potentially looking at a very messy civil liberties issue here. If you can't show a health and safety issue with drug use or maybe some sort of financial/fiduciary responsibility issue (e.g. your head of finance is routinely smoking a rock of crack before a budgets session or the employee is sufficiently senior that the risk of them being blackmailed is too great) then the employee's right to privacy may trump your policy. If his drug use is impacting his performance then you can handle the performance issue through performance management but if it's not then it's hard to see your justification for getting involved.

Realistically you probably have two choices, go along with the CEO or whistle blow. Whistle blowing will probably have the greatest impact as you'll probably get sacked and may even find yourself on the receiving end of a libel or slander suit. In case it's not clear, I'm recommending [b]not[/b] whistle blowing.

Obviously I'd hope that the same yard stick is applied to every employee who tests positive, indeed that the only employees who get tested are those where drug use may cause a health and safety concern.

Stephen

garyslinger's picture

[quote="stephenbooth_uk"]You're potentially looking at a very messy civil liberties issue here. [/quote]
You have no civil liberties to break the law...

Further, if it's in the contract/terms & conditions/whatever, that you're subject to random testing, then you're subject to random testing.

Now, that said - I'd generally be open for some re-testing or just plain overriding, by the relevant manager, if they judged it wise/appropriate; all the other questions about the nature of the job and suchlike come in to play at that point.

G.

UP2L8's picture

[u]Clarification of Some Points:[/u]
1. The employees's jobs affect public safety.
2. There are no 'false positives' in the testing we do.
3. A re-test is only on the same sample; not a new test.
4. I know everything about the situation.
5. Prescription drugs are not a problem unless the person does not have a prescription. Taking a drug without a prescription is illegal and, therefore, a positive result.
6. This is an ethical, legal, and financial issue, and I am qualified to engage in discussions in these areas.
7. Ethical standards do differ in business. I feel that as long as the decision-makers have all the relavant information I have fulfilled my ethical obligation. The decision-makers have a higher ethical obligation than mine. That being said, since I am their advisor on this (whether they listen, or not) do I, therefore, have a higher level of responsibilty?

WillDuke's picture

Wow, what an ugly situation.

A company policy is a company policy. If you're not going to enforce it, don't have it. While I am normally all for situational exceptions, this isn't the right time for them.

More importantly, if this affects public safety it seems like you're in a whole different situation. I would carefully lay out my concerns to my boss. I would discuss the ethics and if that didn't sway then the potential liability.

Imagine you knew a pilot was a drug user and did nothing about it. Then there was an accident. The liability would be enormous. Worse, how could you ever live with yourself?

I'm assuming the CEO wanted the policy to find these types of infractions. Hey, if you don't want to know the answer, don't ask the question.

ccleveland's picture

Have you and/or the drug program consultant discussed the issues with your "opponent"? What's the opposing point of view? Can you come to an agreement and present a unified solution to the CEO/owner?

CC

terrih's picture

I will just say, there is no such thing as a perfectly infallible drug test. Only tests with higher degrees of accuracy than others.

My MIL is a lab technician who often runs drug screens. She spoke to a tech at a facility where they run secondary verification tests, and simply listed off to him all the meds my husband was taking. He basically said, "Fuhgeddaboutit." Impossible to get an accurate reading.

But I'm splitting hairs. Overall, I second Will.

UP2L8's picture

Will, yes, the CEO did want the policy and hired an expert consultant to develop it.

It took the CEO 3 years to decide to go ahead because, as you put it so well, "If you don't want to know the answer, don't ask the question." He didn't want to know the answer. Why he changed his mind, I do not know, but there is not going back now (I don't believe).

The CEO is a compassionate person, but I think his heart is getting in the way of his reason. Both he and my opponent are thinking "short-term".

I have expressed my points in several different ways to try to hit on a way the will resonate with each person.

Right now it is quiet. Since the CEO will not return the call from the drug consultant, I feel any influence I have on this topic has dissipated. Which is why I put this on the "Influence and Persuasion" forum.

terrih's picture

Hm. Well, you can't FORCE them to see reason.

If you have done everything you know to do, then what else can you do? Unless you can think of another influencer that you could bring into the mix.

I'm going back to your original post...
[quote]Catch-22: If I continue to push the CEO/owner he is going to get angry that I am interferring with him operating the company as he sees fit, which is the position of my opponent on this issue. (P.S. - my opponent is my boss). [/quote]

Get angry? That's all? (I know, it's easy for me to say from behind my monitor. :wink: )

I once had a mentor who said, if you think you only have two options, you should look for a third.

WillDuke's picture

Well, if the CEO doesn't want to talk to the consultant, it sounds like he has his head stuck in the sand.

I'd wait it out.

If they decide to do nothing, you have to weight your conscience and decide what to do. Can someone really get hurt? If you found yourself in court, what would you be saying? If it was someone you knew, what would you be saying?

UP2L8's picture

Terri - I guess you can say that my 'post' is my 3rd option.

Will - I am just about to the "wait-and-see" stage. Regarding a court case, I have discussed with the executive committee what a lawyer would do to us on the witness stand. So, I made them aware of that eventuallity. As far as someone getting hurt, unfortunately, I will have to evaluate my actions based on what I know ahead of time. However, I would quit rather than violate my conscience.

ccleveland's picture

I may not have been clear with my earlier response. You may not be able to influence the CEO, can you influence your boss, the "opposition?" If you agree on any areas, that may be a starting point to better understand each other's different points of view. If you can affect your boss's perspective, he/she might be able to affect the CEO's.

CC

UP2L8's picture

Here is my latest attempt at resolving the impass.

The Drug Policy we adopted was developed for us by a well-respected consultant. It is a very good policy. However, it is the consultant's "boiler-plate" policy.

What I proposed to the CEO (via email) was that:
(1) we agree on the purpose and scope of the drug policy;
(2) that we re-write the purpose section in our own words so that it sounds like us and not the consultant;
(3) that we look at each of the issues and revise them to fit the views of management without violating the purpose of the drug policy.

After thinking about what the others were saying (and how they were saying it), I realized that my opposition was viewing the policy as their enemy; as something imposed on them. Without their buy-in to the basic intent of such a policy this debate will be endless and fruitless.

I don't know where this idea came from, but my discussions on this forum have been an important catalyst, along with Manager Tools and John Wooden. I add John Wooden, the former UCLA basketball coach, because of the following saying that I have on all my emails: "Always seek to find the best way, rather than insisting on your own way."

WillDuke's picture

Man that CC is a smart guy.

Okay, your boss doesn't like the policy. All of it, or just some of it? The CEO signed off on it, so the CEO must like it. Is the CEO being influenced by your boss, or is the policy flawed?

Is the infraction something so minor that it really should be excepted? If another employee had the same infraction, would they be excepted? Should the policy be adjusted? Why shouldn't the policy be adjusted?

Starting from your boss's point of view will definitely help. Make his argument for him. Can you do this here. We could argue your side for you. I have found this approach very successful in the past.

thaGUma's picture

[quote]1. The employees's jobs affect public safety.[/quote]
Slam dunk.
Drug taking is unlawful.
You and your company are aware of someone's unlawful activity.
That unlawful activity may impact on public safety.
If for whatever reason that employee is involved in any happening that subsequent investigations cause this information to come to the surface...

Can anyone see a lawsuit?

UP2L8's picture

Questions one-at-a-time:
1. How much of the policy doesn't the CEO like? Ans. "The parts where he sees it affect employees he likes."

2. Is CEO influenced by my boss? Ans. "Yes"

3. Is the policy flawed? Ans. "No"

4. Is the infraction minor? Ans. "No"

5. Would another employee be treated different? Ans. "Based on mgmt's past behaviors, yes, if they liked or disliked the other employee."

6. Should the policy be adjusted? Ans. "The policy can be adjusted within certain criteria."

7. Why shouldn't the policy be adjusted (beyond those criteria)? Ans. "The policy is to provide a drug-free workplace that is safe, and ensure drugs or alcohol do not reduce public safety. Changes that reduce these protections should not be allowed."

8. What is your boss's point of view? Ans. "This policy is interferring with me getting the department's work done. If we adhere to this policy we aren't going to be making a profit, then no one will have a job. Testing positive for a prescription drug is not as serious as testing positive for an illegal drug. Just how much can you drink without going over into the 'positive' territory? What about Monday Night Football; the guys like to drink and watch the game?" There are a lot of "red herrings" in there, and a lot of unstated concerns.

bflynn's picture

[quote="WillDuke"]A company policy is a company policy. If you're not going to enforce it, don't have it. [/quote]

I think this captures it.

If you're going to take the time, trouble and expense to have a program for this, then follow through on it. There obviously was a reason for the program to exist in the first place. If the program isn't going to be enforced for everyone, then save the money and just don't do it.

I see this as an ethical problem. Throwing out the unlikely false positive, your employee broke federal law in using drugs. Your corporate policy states what the company's predetermined response to that is. But, faced with that, you have managers who are waffling on choosing what they thought was the right path.

With ethics, you make the decision to be ethical first. Then when you encounter these ugly situations, the decisions are already made. When you wait until you encounter the situation, then try to make up your mind, you fail. You seek the path of least pain, not the path that maintains your pre-decided position.

This is why ethics is so hard. It is central to the conflict that you must choose a more painful path for yourself to maintain your choice of right.

If the owner wants to, he can just choose to make exceptions to the policy, in which case the policy and his ethics (in my eyes and likely in the eyes of your other employees) carries all the weight of a piece of limp spaghetti.

Or, he can just throw out the policy and decide it was a bad idea. There's no shame or problem with admitting that your previous choice was a mistake. Just kill the policy and say "oops", then move on.

Brian

WillDuke's picture

I agree with what Brian says about this being an ethics problem. I agree that by implementing the policy the company "should" have been stating their ethics.

However, if this was a "boilerplate" template. And it was created from outside by a consultant, then my suspicion is that the policy does not accurately reflect the company's ethical position so much as reflecting the laziness of the decision makers. (just have someone make something up for us.)

Consequently, you're now coming to grips with what should have been already dealt with.

1. Ifl Monday night beers trigger the test on Tuesday morning, are we ethically against people coming to work hung-over, or still drunk?

2. Are we against a person smoking marijuana on Friday night? (I've read that MJ is one of the longest lasting in your system for detection, weeks or months).

Now, these types of questions could be legal questions, or ethical questions. They're not equivalent. It's legal to drink beer in your home until you pass out, but is it ethical to come to work at less than 100%? Conversely, it's illegal to smoke marijuana at all, but is it unethical on Monday when the employee is at 100% of their game?

The policy "should" have done this already. Clearly it hasn't. So, as Brian says, it might make the most sense to throw out, or at least re-work the policy.

UP2L8's picture

Can't remove the policy (my opinion).

With a drug policy you can't remove it once you've started it because then the liability really begins. For example, on July 1, 2007 you established a drug policy then on December 1, 2007 you terminate it. Now your actions say that you encourage, by neglect, drug use. Never having it is much better than having it and then removing it because you did not like who got caught.

Yes, the liabilities thoughout this is lawsuits.

UP2L8's picture

Ethics, yes! That is why I posted on the forum.

All of what you all say is true. The bottom-line is, this policy requires both ethical and life style changes for employees and managers alike, which the decision-makers did not see in the beginning. Some on the management team are in essence struggling with being at a transition point in the company's development; "when we were smaller we played fast and loose, but now all these "corporate types" are trying to tell us how to run our business."

The question is, which way will we go? Will we follow Enron, MCI, and sub-prime lenders, or will we embrace corporate responsibility? This is not a small-business, big-business decision, it is, as you say, all ethical.

My hand is not on the rudder; I'm in the crow's nest; I can only pointout the 'rocks'.

tlhausmann's picture

[quote="WillDuke"](I've read that MJ is one of the longest lasting in your system for detection, weeks or months).[/quote]

Some firms take*hair* samples...which do, in fact, reveal information going back months.

I recall the line from the movie _War Games_ -- "The only winning move is not to play."

tlhausmann

UP2L8's picture

I forgot to answer one question.

Marijuana is detectible for a long time depending how much is smoked. For example, single use (one time in a week) is detectible for 72 hours (so much for Friday night). Moderate to heavy use is detectible for 96 hours up to 27 days after the last smoke.

P.S. - I noticed that some of you list your DISC score. It that something that is helpful to others?

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="WillDuke"]Conversely, it's illegal to smoke marijuana at all, but is it unethical on Monday when the employee is at 100% of their game?[/quote]

More to the point is it any of the company's business what an employee did on Friday night if it has zero impact on their work?

Stephen

UP2L8's picture

Stephen,

As long as an employee is not under the influence of any drug or alcohol when they are at work or on company property, they are OK.

It is our business what you do at work, and the condition you are in when you come to work. If an employee stays up all night (no drugs or alcohol) they are usually not-fit-for-duty and we will send them home. Sleep deparvation can be as dangerous driving as being under the influence.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="UP2L8"]As long as an employee is not under the influence of any drug or alcohol when they are at work or on company property, they are OK.[/quote]
Which returns us to the question of what business is it of the company what an employee does outside of work time if it does not impact in their work (they are not impaired) but a test detects sub-intoxicating levels or the non-intoxicating metabolites of a substance?

Some drugs are cleaned out of the system fairly quickly; LSD is undetectable in under an hour, cocaine in a couple of hours. Cannabis, on the other hand, can take anything from days to months to clear out depending on the level of exposure, long after any intoxicating effects have ceased. Indeed an issue with cannabis is that you can get enough in your system from simply being somewhere here it is being or has recently been smoked to trip the test, you never had enough in your system to feel the effects but a recent low level exposure can look like a higher less recent exposure. Last year in Birmingham (UK, where I live) there were reports of people testing positive for cannabis use who were adamant they had never used, around the same time the local newspapers were full of letters complaining about people smoking on buses, some smoking cannabis. Guess what those people who had tested positive but denied using had in common? Some commonly prescribed sleep medications (or to be more precise their metabolites) can still be detectable in the blood and urine over 12 hours later and are indistinguishable from recreational forms of the drugs. Someone who was tripping or coked out of their brains a few hours before coming to work can pass a drugs test with flying colours whilst someone who took a few tokes off a joint a month ago at a party or whose neighbour is a heavy user and the person who took a sleeping pill last night because they're a bit stressed right now and have been having trouble sleeping can each find themselves being hauled over the coals because they tested positive.

Stephen

bflynn's picture

Thinking on this some more The conflict is a difference between official corporate ethics (the policy) and the personal ethics of the CEO. The two do not align. Shame on the CEO of allowing this to happen.

I think the good news here is that it isn't your call. I believe you need to sit down with the CEO and ask him to clarify. I suggest one of two courses of action - 1) He embraces the corporate policy. That means pain for the company and possibly a financial hit. Both of which are necessary. 2) He makes a public announcement that the policy was a mistake and revokes it. If he tries to walk the line, what he is telling all your employees is that he will be ethical unless it hurts.

[b]What YOU do. Ask to see the CEO tomorrow for 15 minutes. Explain to him the dynamics of the situation. Ask him to make a decision by COB, you need to move on this. Stand behind his decision 100%.[/b]

My personal advice is to make an example of this guy, but when it comes to drugs, I have zero tolerance. My belief is that when people violate the corporate policy this flagrantly and that violation requires a dismissal, you do not let them leave quietly. You execute them publicly as an example of standing behind your policies.

About the only other option I can see is to allow that this is a grace period time because the policy is new and provide a stern warning to the entire company. Place this gentleman on a suspended dismissal with a retest in X months.

I'm still not sure how I like that last option.

Brian

WillDuke's picture

Stephen,

I agree, which is why in general I disagree with drug testing. I really don't care if someone (employee or not) smokes on Friday night.

I would care if they were in a position to do harm to the general public. But I care the exact same as if they were intoxicated with alcohol.

I also care if they're impaired at work. But, I am of the opinion that those situations can be handled by the manager. An official policy will probably negatively impact relations with employees, especially if you're doing random testing. Then, if you have an official policy, and you don't follow it, your liability is even higher. Not to mention you look like a bunch of monkeys to your employees.

I'm left wondering what the value of an official policy is.

But, that's not the question before us. :)

UP2L8's picture

Stephan, as long as an employee tests 'positive' (s)he is under the influence. What you do in the privacy of your home is your business as long as you and the affects of your actions remain in your home. If an employee brings his/her intoxication to work it is our business together.

Your drug facts are more common myths than facts. The drug tests are much more sensitive than you believe, at least the one we use. For example, we can detect intoxicating cocaine levels up to 48 hours after use. The shortest detection period is alcohol (10 to 12 hours).

The bottom line is that a drug user is not the type person we want as an employee.

WillDuke's picture

[quote]The bottom line is that a drug user is not the type person we want as an employee.[/quote]
Actually, I think that's your bottom line, and not your boss's or the CEO's. Hence the source of the conflict.

UP2L8's picture

I believe I have hit on the reason for this quandary. The CEO did not agree to establish a drug policy until he decided to get involved in government contract work. Government contract work carries with it the legal requirement of "Drug Free Workplace Laws". So, Will's comment is right-on about the CEO and I having different drug requirements on employees. I assumed we were serious about the policy, where he is just complying with a government directive inorder to get the work.

So, the CEO has a drug policy much stricter than he wanted. And, one whose affects are spilling over to other areas of the business, which explains my boss's comments about reducing profits.

This also explains why he has not commented on my proposal to re-write parts of the policy that created issues. The issue is with the policy itself.

I have pointed out all of the requirements and risks of the current policy. Now the next move is his.

Staff work is so interesting ... :wink:

lalam's picture

I don't know about all of you guys, but this thread makes me so anxious that I am compelled to come back every hour or so to see if UP2L8 had convinced his CEO to do the right thing already. A thought that there is a person out there whose job impacts public safety and this person shows up for work under influence makes me very nervous. What makes me even more concerned is that this person was only identified because of the random testing. What if he/she wasn't caught? How many more are out there? And how come the managers don't know what is going on with these employees?

garyslinger's picture

[quote="stephenbooth_uk"]More to the point is it any of the company's business what an employee did on Friday night if it has zero impact on their work?

Stephen[/quote]
When they're breaking the law? Absolutely.

What other laws are they breaking?

G.

garyslinger's picture

[quote="stephenbooth_uk"][quote="UP2L8"]As long as an employee is not under the influence of any drug or alcohol when they are at work or on company property, they are OK.[/quote]
Which returns us to the question of what business is it of the company what an employee does outside of work time if it does not impact in their work (they are not impaired) but a test detects sub-intoxicating levels or the non-intoxicating metabolites of a substance?

Some drugs are cleaned out of the system fairly quickly; LSD is undetectable in under an hour, cocaine in a couple of hours. Cannabis, on the other hand, can take anything from days to months to clear out depending on the level of exposure, long after any intoxicating effects have ceased. Indeed an issue with cannabis is that you can get enough in your system from simply being somewhere here it is being or has recently been smoked to trip the test, you never had enough in your system to feel the effects but a recent low level exposure can look like a higher less recent exposure. Last year in Birmingham (UK, where I live) there were reports of people testing positive for cannabis use who were adamant they had never used, around the same time the local newspapers were full of letters complaining about people smoking on buses, some smoking cannabis. Guess what those people who had tested positive but denied using had in common? Some commonly prescribed sleep medications (or to be more precise their metabolites) can still be detectable in the blood and urine over 12 hours later and are indistinguishable from recreational forms of the drugs. Someone who was tripping or coked out of their brains a few hours before coming to work can pass a drugs test with flying colours whilst someone who took a few tokes off a joint a month ago at a party or whose neighbour is a heavy user and the person who took a sleeping pill last night because they're a bit stressed right now and have been having trouble sleeping can each find themselves being hauled over the coals because they tested positive.

Stephen[/quote]

The impact of the particular drug isn't relevant. It's clear and demonstrable proof that the person in question doesn't care enough about the law of the land to obey it. So, as I posted a moment ago, what other laws are they breaking? Ones that might have a direct bearing on the business, perhaps? Doesn't matter - they're in the "can't be trusted" bucket.

(My only caveat is that I support a re-test, and screening out items that cause false positives. But a genuine test for MJ or anything else? Done and dusted).

G.

UP2L8's picture

First let meaddress the drug use issues. The lab and testing we use are Olympic Game standard. The "positive" levels are levels scientifically determined to be "under-the-influence" levels. Levels below these are reported as "negative" .
Employees always have a chance to explian a positive result. However, I am not the one they have to convince. They have to convince a medical drug expert.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

Anonymous,

[quote="UP2L8"]Stephan, as long as an employee tests 'positive' (s)he is under the influence.[/quote]

It is possible to detect levels of drugs, or more often their metabolites (metabolites are what the body, usually the liver, turn drugs into to deactivate them and make them easier to excrete), well below the level at which it can be deemed to have any influence on the person. A single mouthful of beer will be, briefly, detectable in the blood but no reasonable person would attempt to claim that person was 'under the influence'.

[quote="UP2L8"]Your drug facts are more common myths than facts.[/quote]

My drugs facts are from a briefing by North Staffordshire Police and a Bachelor of Science degree course at University of Keele.

[quote="UP2L8"]The drug tests are much more sensitive than you believe, at least the one we use. For example, we can detect intoxicating cocaine levels up to 48 hours after use. The shortest detection period is alcohol (10 to 12 hours).[/quote]

So on the one hand you're claiming that if it's detectable the person is 'under the influence' but on the other you're saying that the tests you use are so sensitive that they can detect drugs long after the person could be considered by any reasonable measure to be intoxicated. If you're detecting cocaine after 48 hours then that's going to be the metabolites, the deactivated form. Alcohol is processed by the liver at a rate of around 1 unit (roughly half a pint of ordinary strength beer, a small glass of wine or one sixth of a gill of ordinary strength spirits) an hour so for there still to be a detectable level of alcohol in the blood after 10-12 hours the person would have had to have consumed 10-12 units (5-6 pints of beer) in fairly rapid succession, probably in less than 2 hours before the start of the 10-12 period, or a greater volume over a longer period. I heard recently that the blood alcohol level for legal intoxication in the US is 80mg/cl (aka '80 migs per cent'), as I recall that equates to roughly 4-6 units consumed in a 2 hour period depending on body mass.

[quote="UP2L8"]The bottom line is that a drug user is not the type person we want as an employee.[/quote]

From what I gather from your entries that is your view, your CEO and manager seem to disagree.

I also note that so far all you have stated is that someone had a positive test result, that leaves a number of options:

* They may have actually taken a drug illegally and be under the influence. In which case disciplinary action is probably called for.
* They may have taken an a drug illegally but no longer be under the influence (the test picked up sub-intoxicating levels or non-intoxicating metabolites) in which case some sort of counseling is probably called for.
* They may have taken some legal drug which trips the test for an illegal one. In which case some investigation is probably called for to determine if a change of duties is required whilst they are on that drug because it might impair their ability to do their job safely.
* It may be a false positive caused by lab error, effects of diet or some other cause. A new sample and retest is probably called for.
* His sample may have been contaminated by someone who is jealous of him being a favourite of the CEO and wants to get him out of the way. A new sample and retest under better security is probably called for.

Stephen

WillDuke's picture

Okay, so the CEO doesn't really want the policy, but wants the work that requires the policy.

It would seem as though the CEO has to decide which he wants more.

I wonder though, if you had a modification to the policy for drug treatment if this might not make everyone happy.

The policy and testing identified an issue with an employee. Cold the policy then put the employee into a recovery program to help them with their issue? Testing at that point might no longer be random for a period of time until the program is complete. Depending on the nature of the employee's work, perhaps they are given different duties or suspended until completion of the program.

Company gets to keep a good employee. Employee gets to keep their job and get help with their problem. Public gets to be safe because they're not at risk any longer.

Just another $0.02. :)

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="garyslinger"]When they're breaking the law? Absolutely.

What other laws are they breaking?[/quote]

Would you fire someone for parking where they shouldn't or speeding? Would you sack them because they were paid by their neighbour for doing some DIY and didn't declare the income? What if they covered up their kid's shoplifting habit?

Bear in mid here that all that has happened is that they had a positive result on a drugs test. They haven't been arrested, tried by a jury of their peers and convicted.

When did it become the remit of an employer to police the private lives of their employees?

Stephen

UP2L8's picture

In response to Will:

Your point is the dialog I was trying to get going with the CEO by proposing we modify the drug policy to reflect the company's preferences given the legal restrictions.

WillDuke's picture

Ahh, isn't it great when we come full circle. :)

But you know, that wasn't clear to me, maybe it's not clear to the CEO?

UP2L8's picture

Stephen, work life and private life are interrelated. If you have a nasty argument with your wife before leaving for work it becomes a work issue if you are upset at work. If I fire you, it has an affect on your private life. Working takes time away from, and modifies, your private life. We work because we are willing to exchange some of our private time for goods and services we want (represented by the money we earn) so that we can have the private life we desire.

So, if what you do in your private life spills over into your work life it becomes a work issue subject to work policies. If what you do at work spills over into your private life it becomes a home issue subject to the reactions of the people in your private life.

No man (or woman) is an island.

UP2L8's picture

Response to Will:

I did specifically state to the CEO that we can modify the policy to remove the issues, as long as we don't cross the prudent legal line.

Someone suggested I get a meeting with the CEO and tell him what he should do. Well, I think that would be like "spitting into the wind". I have to wait for the CEO to respond. He has the information he needs and information I don't have.

Waiting is not easy for me; you are familiar with DISC, I am a high "D" type.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="UP2L8"]So, if what you do in your private life spills over into your work life it becomes a work issue subject to work policies. [/quote]

Thanks, you've just confirmed my argument: If it does not impact your work performance then it's not a work issue and therefore your employer has no remit to police it.

Stephen

UP2L8's picture

Response to Stephen:

Agree; no affect on work; no work issue. One just has to manage off-work behavior to lessen or remove 'spillovers'.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="UP2L8"]The lab and testing we use are Olympic Game standard. [/quote]

Are you aware of the many news stories in recent years about athletes over turning bans that have resulted from false positive drug test results?

By a strange coincidence as I had just finished typing the above paragraph (and was just about to hit submit) an item came on the BBC 6pm news about how drugs testing in athletics is useless due to the regular failures (false positives and negatives). :-)

Stephen

garyslinger's picture

[quote="stephenbooth_uk"]Would you fire someone for parking where they shouldn't or speeding? Would you sack them because they were paid by their neighbour for doing some DIY and didn't declare the income? What if they covered up their kid's shoplifting habit?

Bear in mid here that all that has happened is that they had a positive result on a drugs test. They haven't been arrested, tried by a jury of their peers and convicted.

When did it become the remit of an employer to police the private lives of their employees?

Stephen[/quote]
If their job involved driving, I very well might fire them for acquiring speeding tickets if I found out, yes. The other examples? "It depends".

The bear in mind part? I'm willing to accept the drug test result. What I see in your posts, and it may just be my perception, is a pretty loose "tolerance" of drugs. I freely admit to being a lot closer to zero-tolerance on the issue. Those that have brought alcohol in to the discussion? Fundamental difference - the consumption of alcohol isn't illegal.

The policing remit? Seen contracts with moral turpitude clauses in them? I have. I don't, generally, care what an employee does over his weekend. Except when he starts breaking the law. Then I care.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="garyslinger"]What I see in your posts, and it may just be my perception, is a pretty loose "tolerance" of drugs. I freely admit to being a lot closer to zero-tolerance on the issue.[/quote]

I'm pretty much a social liberal, so long as it doesn't negatively impact anyone else and you take responsibility for the outcomes of your actions then your business is your business. If your actions negatively impact others or you try to dodge responsibility for the outcomes then you can expect some adjusting feedback.

Stephen

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="UP2L8"]The CEO did not agree to establish a drug policy until he decided to get involved in government contract work. Government contract work carries with it the legal requirement of "Drug Free Workplace Laws".[/quote]

Just a random thought that hit me reading that, mightn't that lead to a 4th Amendment issue?

[quote]Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. [/quote]

The company may be the one doing the drugs testing but if it is at the behest of the government then surely they are acting as the agents of the government in that matter.

Stephen

UP2L8's picture

The drug testing sideline we got off onto needs to be in another forum. The drug testing discussion is getting into "privacy", "individualism", "government's roles", "employer rights", and other hot-button topics.

My concerns are with upward influence and persuasion.

jhack's picture

UP2L8,

Perhaps. Then again, maybe the sideline is directly related to your ability to persuade. ...And your desire to separate the two is indicative of your disregard for the difference between situational ethics and legalistic ethics (not uncommon amongst those working in a legalistic ethical framework).

Is your "opponent" (!?) working out of another ethical framework than you are? If so, you cannot persuade until you master their framework.

John

UP2L8's picture

The CEO with his senior VPs are reviewing the policy with the intent of modifying it to resolve the conflicts.

Am I involved in these meetings? No, however, my boss is acting as intermediary between me and the CEO. Not a perfect situation, but there is now communication, and possiblities for greater dialog with my boss.

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