Connecticut high court overturns decision that fired employee for pot use
- The Supreme Court of Connecticut decided that, despite a strict state law, firing someone for smoking pot on the job can be one penalty over the line, according to SHRM.
- SHRM reports that in the Connecticut high court's decision, it ignored the state's "explicit, well-defined and dominant public policy against the possession and recreational use of marijuana in the workplace," saying a lesser penalty also could apply.
- In this case, the employee, who worked at University of Connecticut Health Center was caught smoking pot in a state-owned van. He was arrested (charges eventually were dismissed), and he was fired. An arbitrator ruled that the punishment didn't fit the crime and recommended six months unpaid leave and drug testing instead.
While a trial court overturned the arbitrator's ruling, the state Supreme Court disagreed and in the end decided that the decision of a 6-month unpaid leave and drug testing was within the state's public policy on recreational pot use in the workplace.
The issue of workplace marijuana use is one that has made headlines nationwide, as more states and municipalities legalize, decriminalize or pass medicinal marijuana laws. Judging by the Connecticut court's decision, employers certainly are allowed to create workplace pot use policies, but at the same time, they should consider the public policy and growing acceptance by society of marijuana use — and discipline employees accordingly.