On Feb. 19, 20 Colorado-based electrical contractors met to discuss marijuana in the workplace and other prevailing human resources issues at a free HR panel discussion hosted by IECRM, the trade association for electrical contractors.

Much of the discussion was spent on the topic of marijuana and other substances in the workplace, in light of the recent implementation of Amendment 64, which originally passed in Colorado on Nov. 6, 2012.

A question was raised regarding the rights that an employer has to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for marijuana and other substances, specifically, whether such a policy will infringe on the new rights of Colorado-based employees to use marijuana outside of the workplace. If an employee tests positive for the drug while at work, does an employer retain the right to take action based on the company’s policies?

 


Kate Raabe, attorney at Fisher & Phillips LLP, confirmed that there are several options available. “You as an employer can still have a zero-tolerance policy, or your company can choose to consider a variety of alternatives such as suspension and/or an EAP program in addition to the option of immediate termination.” She emphasized that, whichever approach you take, your company should explicitly state the policy, and that management must be consistent in enforcing the policy as it is stated. Raabe also emphasized that employers still have the right to supplement or revise their current policies, and added that there is a case currently pending before the Colorado Supreme Court that addresses issues related to this topic which may have an impact on future interpretations of the law.

David Scott, Human Resources Director at Encore Electric, Inc., suggested that employers send out a company-wide memo reminding employees of the company’s current substance policy or of any policy changes, in order to prevent confusion.

The discussion also covered health care reform laws, employee retention strategies, employee training and professional development, and other prevailing topics.

“Companies can institute policies based on what they believe is the right way or the wrong way to handle a situation. But, it’s important to know if those policies are legal,” said IECRM Business Director, Kori Hemans.

The four panelists included Kate Raabe, attorney at Fisher & Phillips LLP, Sharry Charest, Human Resources Manager at LEI Companies, Inc., David Scott, Human Resources Director at Encore Electric, Inc., and Lindsey Cox, Vice President – HR/Finance at 1st Electric Contractors, Inc. The panel discussion was moderated by IECRM CEO, Spenser Villwock.