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What to Do About Employees' Drug Use at Work?

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

We all know that recreational drug use at work is not acceptable. But just because employers won't tolerate being high while on the clock, doesn't mean that all employees abide by the rules.

That certainly wasn't the case for Cat Marnell, the former Beauty and Health Editor at xoJane. She left the company rather than get clean.

Marnell was open about her drug use, but most employees don't publicize that information in a forum their boss can see.

If you suspect an employee may be high on the job, there are steps you can take to resolve the issue without risking legal liability.

The first step is to make sure your employment contracts have a clear drug policy.

An employment contract should set the tone for how you'll deal with suspected drug use so that employees know what to expect. It also helps employers determine how to deal with the situation before it becomes an issue.

Depending on your business structure, it may be appropriate to confront the employee one-on-one. Depending on how employees interact, you may hold a meeting with a supervisor and/or other team members.

Any drug policy should include the steps the employer will take to verify suspected drug use. Confirming drug use may involve measures, such as drug testing, that can raise privacy concerns so make sure your policy complies with employment laws.

If you confirm the employee is using drugs at work, know what comes next. In Marnell's case, she received disability for time off to seek treatment.

This may not be a common solution, but could work if you are close to your employees. That said, it may be easier to terminate the business relationship and find someone else.

No matter how you handle drug use at work, make sure your employment contract and drug policy are clear. A legally binding and easy-to-understand document can smooth the process and protect you against future legal claims.

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