1. Was Peter Carpenter's suspension justified?
The suspension was not justified because it was based on hearsay. The termination was merely based on the statement made by Carpenter's co-workers. Although Jacobson had suspicion that some of the employees working at Standard Chemical Company were using illegal substances and abusing alcohol, there was no proof that Carpenter was using any type of drug or if he was an alcoholic whose job performance was hampered by alcohol abuse. From an objective assessment of the area, it can be argued that the forklift could have been driven by an employee other than Carpenter. There are many people in that facility that could have driven the said forklift and could have accidentally stepped on a pedal that sent it crashing to the steel wall.
Jacobson should not have suspended Carpenter without proof. It is understandable why she was so paranoid to catch those who are using banned substances. The company deals with harmful chemicals that can destroy the environment and pose a great hazard to the local community, but there are other means to prevent an accident. Jacobson could easily improve the security measures in the said facility. She could employ the same strategies used by police officers in testing suspected alcoholics that are not fit to drive a vehicle. Thus, she can use a similar strategy wherein suspected employees are not allowed to work until there is assurance that they are fit to handle their job responsibilities.
Other measures can be put in place, such as the visual evaluation of employees if they are fit to work. If a worker is unable to walk in a straight line and have slurred speech, then there is high probability that they are addicted to alcohol and must be barred from working in the said factory, until the alcohol level in their bloodstream is back to normal. It is more difficult to catch drug addicts and therefore, unless a drug test comes back positive, Jacobson has no right to suspend any employee. In the case of Carpenter, the best course of action is to keep him on close watch. It is advisable that a supervisor should closely monitor him and report any suspicious behavior to Jacobson. But a suspension is not justified pending the outcome of the investigation and the result of a drug test.
2. Was his termination justified?
Carpenter's termination was not justified. This assertion is based on the alcohol and drug abuse policy implemented by the company. The principle behind the drug abuse policy was never punitive. Assurances were made by the management team and Jacobson personally, who vouched to the employees that the policy will never be used as a kind of “witch hunt” giving company officials the power to terminate workers that they do not like. Therefore, everything must be done to ensure that problematic employees are rehabilitated, and termination is the last resort. It must only be used if the employee shows signs of defiance and unwilling to work with management so as to deal with a drug or alcohol problem.
The termination can never be justified because Carpenter was willing to follow everything that was stated in the drug and alcohol abuse policy of the company. It must be pointed out that Carpenter’s performance improved during the time that he underwent counseling. The transformation was attested by the person in-charge of the rehabilitation program as well as Carpenter’s supervisors. Therefore, there was no reason to terminate him on the basis of work-related issues. It has to be clarified that terminating the services of an employee must only be based on job performance and not on the personal preferences of management. Carpenter can easily sue the firm for discrimination. If Carpenter signed a contract with Standard Chemical Company that prohibited him from using banned substances, then his employment could have been terminated immediately. But there was no employment contract that points to drug and alcohol abuse as the immediate grounds for termination.
3. Evaluate the adequacy of the Standard Chemical Company's drug and alcohol abuse policy. Are there any components that need improvement?
One of the major weaknesses of the policy is the failure to identify the different types of penalties for different types of drugs. The company should also separate drug abuse from alcohol abuse. Drug abuse is considered more dangerous, if the substances used are under the category of hallucinogens. The sensitivity of the operation which requires the handling of hazardous chemicals should not be placed in the hands of workers using mind-altering drugs. In addition it is easier to detect alcohol abuse than mind altering drugs. The policy must also specify that a mandatory drug test is needed 60 days after the first positive result in order to deal with the fact that the human body cannot flush out certain drugs even after 30 days of non-use. In the case of Carpenter, the active ingredient of marijuana can still be found in his system even after 45 days of non-use. Furthermore, drug testing must be made mandatory as pre-employment qualification.
4. Were Carpenter's privacy rights protected?
Based on the current drug and alcohol abuse policy, the privacy rights of Carpenter were protected because he was not required to undergo a drug test, if he volunteers to go directly into the EAP’s drug and alcohol program. But the company violated privacy rights when Jacobson insisted that Carpenter should be tested once again. There was no basis for a second round of drug testing, because Carpenter should have been given more time to flush out the remaining cannabinoids in his system.