Stop retaliation against workers who tip off drug use

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in Employment Law,Firing,Human Resources

Remind managers not to punish or otherwise retaliate against employees who report suspected drug use by fellow employees. Such tip-offs may constitute protected activity, and retaliation may lead to a lawsuit.

Recent case:
Lester Russell told managers he believed a fellow employee working on his shift might have been high on marijuana. He said the man smelled like he had been smoking it. The co-worker denied the charges. Shortly after, Russell was moved to a different shift.

He quit and sued, alleging retaliation for reporting a safety violation.

The court ruled that employees like Russell can sue if they are fired in violation of public policy. That includes terminations for reporting suspected drug use. However, the court dismissed Russell’s case because it couldn’t find any retaliatory motive in the transfer. (Russell v. Paradigm Packaging, No. 08-178, CD CA, 2009)

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