The Supreme Court of Connecticut has reversed a lower court ruling and reinstated a state employee who was terminated because the employee was smoking marijuana on the job. In reinstating the employee, the Supreme Court acknowledged Connecticut’s well-defined policy against recreational marijuana use, however they ruled that there was other appropriate discipline instead of terminating the employee.
The employee who worked for the University of Connecticut Health Center was found by police lighting a glass pipe while he was in a state owned van while he was “on the clock.” Police found two bags of marijuana and arrested him, however criminal charges were dropped. The University fired the employee citing his illegal marijuana use in a state owned vehicle as well as having access to dangerous vehicles and equipment.
The fired employee’s case was taken up by the union to arbitration and the arbitrator determined that the termination was extreme, opting to rule a six month suspension instead, with random drug testing post-suspension. The state appealed this ruling, however the Supreme Court sided with the arbitrator.
What This Means
· The state of Connecticut having a drug-free workplace policy doesn’t require that an employee be automatically terminated for using drugs on a shift or break.
· Medical marijuana is legal in Connecticut, and the employee testified that he had been using marijuana to combat his anxiety and depression, but the case does little to clear up the issue of medical marijuana in the workplace
· The issue of marijuana in the workplace will continue to be difficult as more states adopt medical and recreational laws.
· Consult with myHRcounsel to help construct a drug policy for your company and employee handbook, as well as employee off-boarding support! (Which are included in our monthly fee)
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