High court sides with employee fired for smoking pot at work


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Hum

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut state worker fired after he was caught smoking marijuana on the job was punished too harshly and should get his job back, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.

 

Gregory Linhoff was fired from his maintenance job at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington in 2012 after a police officer caught him smoking pot in a state-owned vehicle. He had no previous disciplinary problems since being hired in 1998 and had received favorable job evaluations, according to his union. He was arrested, but the charges were later dismissed.

 

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State officials said firing the New Hartford resident was the only appropriate penalty for his conduct and not doing so would send a bad message to other employees. An arbitrator disagreed and overturned the firing, saying Linhoff instead should be suspended without pay for six months and be subject to random drug testing for a year after he returned to work.

 

The state appealed and a Superior Court judge overturned the arbitrator's decision on the grounds that it violated Connecticut's public policy against marijuana use. Linhoff's union, the Connecticut Employees Union Independent SEIU, appealed the judge's ruling to the Supreme Court.

 

All seven justices agreed that the lower court judge was wrong to overturn the arbitrator's ruling, saying that while state policy on drug use in the work place allows for firing workers it does not require it. Justices also said that judicial second-guessing of arbitration awards is uncommon and should be reserved only for extraordinary circumstances.

 

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+jnelsoninjax

Now this is a question that I have been wondering, say I move to a state where it's legal to use marijuana, I'm sure that I couldn't smoke while at work, but what happens in a situation where on my day off I enjoy a joint or so and the next day I go to work and get injured, I'm sure the employer is going to want to ###### test, and when it shows THC in the blood, can they fire me? I have mixed feelings about this guy, yes he was doing something that in that state is considered illegal, and he was in a state owned vehicle (dumb ass move there) but I agree with the higher courts ruling in that termination was too extreme for a first time offense.

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Emn1ty
5 hours ago, jnelsoninjax said:

Now this is a question that I have been wondering, say I move to a state where it's legal to use marijuana, I'm sure that I couldn't smoke while at work, but what happens in a situation where on my day off I enjoy a joint or so and the next day I go to work and get injured, I'm sure the employer is going to want to ###### test, and when it shows THC in the blood, can they fire me? I have mixed feelings about this guy, yes he was doing something that in that state is considered illegal, and he was in a state owned vehicle (dumb ass move there) but I agree with the higher courts ruling in that termination was too extreme for a first time offense.

This is about precedent, what if it was drinking alcohol? I doubt people would be so forgiving then. If it's illegal, don't do it on or in state property. They are obligated to obey the laws as they are representatives of the law. Zero tolerance in this profession makes sense. Public servants should always be under more scrutiny since they are paid by those they serve.

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Hum

It would be OK unless smoking affected your performance at work.

 

If you had an accident while high, you probably could forget about having a job.

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He's Dead Jim

Pot police strike again

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+Gary7

It is not legal to smoke pot in Conn. He broke the law and should have been fired. This is plain nuts.

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Barney T.

So, as a critical care nurse, if I chose to smoke pot on the job in that state while taking care for one of those judge's family members, I wonder if they would have a different take. Juggling multiple life saving IV medicines, breathing machine settings, interpreting lab values, and other tasks is very difficult when you are sober, much less when you are impaired.

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Skiver
2 minutes ago, Gary7 said:

It is not legal to smoke pot in Conn. He broke the law and should have been fired. This is plain nuts.

I don't know employment law (UK or US) so I'm asking this out of curiosity but in the UK if you do something "wrong" then you go through a process of warning. I think the more serious the offence it can call for an instant dismissal but could the better process here not to have warned him first?

 

I got the impression a few years ago when I spent 5 weeks in the US that you could pretty much be fired at any point for any reason rather than going through what seemed like a fair warning/dismissal process?

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Barney T.

^ Yes. Every job that I am aware of would fire you in the US for being impaired. Employers are at risk of paying for injuries related to this activity if their employee gets hurt.

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+Gary7
1 minute ago, Skiver said:

I don't know employment law (UK or US) so I'm asking this out of curiosity but in the UK if you do something "wrong" then you go through a process of warning. I think the more serious the offence it can call for an instant dismissal but could the better process here not to have warned him first?

 

I got the impression a few years ago when I spent 5 weeks in the US that you could pretty much be fired at any point for any reason rather than going through what seemed like a fair warning/dismissal process?

If this guy was drinking Jack Daniels, a legal beverage what would they have done. This is what happens in a Country run amuck with Politically Correct BS.

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PGHammer
1 minute ago, Gary7 said:

If this guy was drinking Jack Daniels, a legal beverage what would they have done. This is what happens in a Country run amuck with Politically Correct BS.

If he were over the "impairment" limit, they would have bounced him - even if it were JD (which is legal, though regulated).  This is not a new issue - including in the US; consider HGV drivers (over-the-road tractor-trailer drivers - I used the EU-specific term on purpose, since a lot of Neowinians live in Europe); in the US, they are regulated by state DMVs, the Interstate Commerce Commission and (in the case of specialty transport, such as HAZMATs) the Departments of Energy and/or Defense.  (HAZMATs?  No - I'm not talking explosives - though they are ALSO transported by truck; I'm talking - surprisingly - common automotive parts such as air bags; the actuator of an airbag (or Supplemental Restraint System) - regardless of manufacturer - is typically a cartridge-actuated device (CAD for short) and is based on military technology of Korean War vintage.  The issue is, in fact, safety - nothing more OR less.

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+Gary7
1 minute ago, PGHammer said:

If he were over the "impairment" limit, they would have bounced him - even if it were JD (which is legal, though regulated).  This is not a new issue - including in the US; consider HGV drivers (over-the-road tractor-trailer drivers - I used the EU-specific term on purpose, since a lot of Neowinians live in Europe); in the US, they are regulated by state DMVs, the Interstate Commerce Commission and (in the case of specialty transport, such as HAZMATs) the Departments of Energy and/or Defense.  (HAZMATs?  No - I'm not talking explosives - though they are ALSO transported by truck; I'm talking - surprisingly - common automotive parts such as air bags; the actuator of an airbag (or Supplemental Restraint System) - regardless of manufacturer - is typically a cartridge-actuated device (CAD for short) and is based on military technology of Korean War vintage.  The issue is, in fact, safety - nothing more OR less.

I cannot speak for the law in Conn. But where I live it is not legal to have an open container of any Alcoholic beverage in a car. In the 60's I went to Myrtle Beach with a bunch of friends from DC. When the bars closed they gave you what they called "Go Cups" so that you can finish what you were drinking . I found that to be strange--they do not do that there anymore.:)

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PGHammer
Just now, Gary7 said:

I cannot speak for the law in Conn. But where I live it is not legal to have an open container of any Alcoholic beverage in a car. In the 60's I went to Myrtle Beach with a bunch of friends from DC. When the bars closed they gave you what they called "Go Cups" so that you can finish what you were drinking . I found that to be strange--they do not do that there anymore.:)

Practically NO state permits public consumption of any alcoholic beverage in its original container (this includes beer) over a certain BAL amount (where drive-up bars are permitted - which is only in certain Southern states - such as Louisiana and Texas - the served drinks themselves are monitored so as not to go above that limit - which differs from locality to locality).  Further, no casino in the US serves alcoholic beverages for off-site/off-sale consumption - this does include casinos owned OR operated by Native American tribes (such as the Hard Rock Casinos in both Florida and Nevada - which are owned AND operated by the Seminole tribe).  Safety again.

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+Gary7
3 minutes ago, PGHammer said:

Practically NO state permits public consumption of any alcoholic beverage in its original container (this includes beer) over a certain BAL amount (where drive-up bars are permitted - which is only in certain Southern states - such as Louisiana and Texas - the served drinks themselves are monitored so as not to go above that limit - which differs from locality to locality).  Further, no casino in the US serves alcoholic beverages for off-site/off-sale consumption - this does include casinos owned OR operated by Native American tribes (such as the Hard Rock Casinos in both Florida and Nevada - which are owned AND operated by the Seminole tribe).  Safety again.

Apparently in Coon, they don't give a damn about safety.:(

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Buttus
31 minutes ago, Gary7 said:

If this guy was drinking Jack Daniels, a legal beverage what would they have done. This is what happens in a Country run amuck with Politically Correct BS.

i know 3 people who were caught drinking while working, and they were not fired, but sent to an alcoholic type rehab to get counseling. 

they were only warned that if it happened again, then they would be fired.

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+Gary7
Just now, Buttus said:

i know 3 people who were caught drinking while working, and they were not fired, but sent to an alcoholic type rehab to get counseling. 

they were only warned that if it happened again, then they would be fired.

But they were not in a vehicle..

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Buttus
Just now, Gary7 said:

But they were not in a vehicle..

yes, one was working for AT&T and in his work van, during a work day.

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Buttus
4 minutes ago, Gary7 said:

But they were not in a vehicle..

in fact, just a little background on it, he was a hard core alcoholic, he used to get up in the morning, drink a 6 pack, then get one during the day as he did his service calls and finish that during the day as he drove around, then have another 6 pack or two at night.

he made some boneheaded move while driving and got pulled over, got a DUI (again, while working) and didn't get fired.  got sent to rehab, cleaned up, and AT&T even promoted him from working with copper up to sending him to school to learn fiber optics and doing that.  (he's retired now)

 

so people don't always get fired for doing dumb things like that

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Memphis
4 hours ago, Barney T. said:

So, as a critical care nurse, if I chose to smoke pot on the job in that state while taking care for one of those judge's family members, I wonder if they would have a different take. Juggling multiple life saving IV medicines, breathing machine settings, interpreting lab values, and other tasks is very difficult when you are sober, much less when you are impaired.

Agreed, several countries who don't generally require drug testing still require it for professions such as nursing. Not only that, but he was on the job, it's ludicrous not to throw the book at him. I am all for allowing people on there own time to do as they please, but never on the job.

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abecedarian paradoxious

"...while state policy on drug use in the work place allows for firing workers it does not require it...."

 

Nor does it prohibit it. And Connecticut is not a "right to work" state.

 

State court is out of bounds on this one.

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+Mirumir
On 8/22/2016 at 3:34 PM, Hum said:

An arbitrator disagreed and overturned the firing, saying Linhoff instead should be suspended without pay for six months and be subject to random drug testing for a year after he returned to work.

Justice has been served.

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+Biscuits Brown

Well, here is the real bottom line "received favorable job evaluations, according to his union". The outright firing of a union employee in a non right to work state is just not going to happen.  That guy could have gotten stoned, driven into a group of school children at a bus stop in his work truck and his union would have prevented him from being fired. I'm surprised his supervisors even got the termination paperwork started to be honest.

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+xrobwx71
On 8/23/2016 at 8:11 AM, Gary7 said:

It is not legal to smoke pot in Conn. He broke the law and should have been fired. This is plain nuts.

Agreed.For me, it doesn't matter whether it's illegal but whether the company allows it. Like Barney said below, I don't know of any job in the US except maybe at a pot dispensary, that you can be impaired on anything and keep your job. For the

 

record, I am not against pot as medicine or even own time recreational use but rules are rules. Like drinking is legal but there are a subset of rules that go with it. Drink, obtain a BAC above .08 (in Florida) and it becomes illegal to drive, etc, etc. Also for

 

me it's about common sense. All the pro pot folks think that if they legalize pot, it just opens the floodgates and you can smoke anytime, anywhere is naive at best. 

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