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1 in 10 Employees Went to Work Stoned: What Can Employers Do?

According to a new survey for the website Mashable by online survey company SurveyMonkey, almost one in 10 workers reports having gone to work high on marijuana.

For employers, stoned employees means potentially lower productivity as well as increased potential liability for accidents caused by an employee who is high on the job.

But what can you do about employees who show up high? Here are five possibilities to consider:

  1. Have workers sign off on a written drug policy. Any workplace rules regarding employee drug use or drug tests should be part of a written policy ideally included as part of an employee handbook. Employees should also be required to sign an acknowledgement that they have read and agreed to abide by the policy.
  2. Know when you can (and can't) require a drug test. Employee drug testing may be another option, although not all employees may be subject to drug testing. Generally, however, if you have reasonable suspicion backed by evidence that an employee is using drugs at work or the employee is involved in an accident that may have been caused by drug use, you can likely ask that employee to take a drug test. There are also some professions, such as airline pilots and truck drivers, in which drug testing may be required by state or federal law.
  3. Send the employee home. You may also choose to suspend an employee who shows up high by sending him or her home. As with any disciplinary action, having a written disciplinary policy in place can help protect you from allegations of unfair practices.
  4. Terminate the employee. You may also consider firing the employee, but be sure to take the proper precautions to avoid a wrongful termination lawsuit. Again, this should include having both a written drug policy and written disciplinary policy in place.
  5. Take no action ... but do so at your own risk. You could also choose to do nothing. You're the boss, after all. However, allowing employees to be high at work can prevent you from using a worker's intoxication as a defense to a future worker's compensation claim. And may also lead to liability in the event a customer or another worker is injured. Federal and state rules may also require certain businesses to maintain a drug-free workplace.

If you have more questions about running a small business or managing employees, check out FindLaw's Community Forum on Small Business.

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