Getting a Line on the Trouble
Sally stopped by Cameron's office and lightly tapped on the door. " How are things going?" she asked. "Ever since you've been promoted to vice president of human resources for the retail division, we hardly get to see you."
"Oh, I've been trying to figure out how to solve a problem in the store," Cameron said. "There have been rumors flying that we've got a drug ring in the main store. The trouble is, I suspect that security is in on the deal, so I'm reluctant to involve them."
Sally was a human resources director for the catalog division at corporate. "Security? At what level?" she asked.
"That's the problem. I don't know, and I don't want to take the chance of tipping anyone off."
"Do you think you might want to hire an outside investigator? Maybe get someone to work undercover?" she suggested.
"I've been thinking about it. I don't want to act hastily. After all, no one has really come forward. We're still at the rumor stage, and our budget is stretched as is," Cameron complained.
"I know what you mean. Let me know if you want to brainstorm on this. I'll try to help if you'd like," Sally offered as she turned to leave.
"Thanks, Sal," Cameron said and gathered up some documents on his desk. He had a meeting scheduled in five minutes with a department manager about a workers' compensation case, and he knew it would take him at least seven minutes to walk there. "I'd better get a move on," he thought.
He took the escalator down several floors. When he arrived on the second floor, he suddenly felt a cramp in his lower abdomen and an urgent need to get to the men's room. "Great, just what I need," he grimaced, searching for the nearest public rest room.
He made it to the lavatory just in time. While he was secluded in the stall, he heard the outside door open. Then he heard several male voices. They were discussing something about prices and lines–but from the nature of the conversation, it didn't sound as though they were talking about margins or merchandise.
Cameron emerged from the stall and walked to the sink to wash his hands. There stood four security guards busily engaged in conversation while cutting a line of coke.
"Hey man, you want a snort?" one asked.
"Maybe; how much?" Cameron asked swiftly with a broad smile. "I could use a buzz."
"Fifty," the guard said.
"Let me go get some more cash. I only have a couple bucks on me," he said, drying his hands. "Can you wait five minutes?"
"Not much more than that, man, we're on break," the guard said.
"No problem. I'll be right back," Cameron grinned.
Cameron casually left the rest room, darted into a stockroom, and located the buyer's office. He felt the adrenaline flood his system as he called the police. He told them about the drug situation and where the guards were located. Next, Cameron positioned himself near the rest room, so he could direct any customers away from the site. Then he prayed he wouldn't have another attack of diarrhea.
Since the store was within spitting distance of the police headquarters, they arrived in three minutes. Cameron met them at the door, pointed out the rest room, and let them conduct the arrests. When the police questioned the security guards, their investigation revealed that several other employees were involved in the drug ring. Later that afternoon, the police returned with warrants for their arrests, and Cameron assisted by having the employees discreetly removed from the store
When Cameron returned to his office around 6 p.m., he stopped by Sally's office. "How'd you like to congratulate me?" he beamed.
"For what?" she smiled.
"Tell you what," Cameron said, "Let's grab some dinner and I'll tell you all about it."
Cameron was lucky! We all have at least one fall in our laps. But Cameron can't rest on his laurels; this may just be the tip of the iceberg. With four security guards doing a line of coke in the bathroom, major drug problems as well as potential theft may exist.
If the company hasn't done so, it should implement a drug-free workplace program. The program should include pre-employment testing, random testing, and regular testing for security personnel. Also, if the company experiences any economic loss due to theft of merchandise, it may consider conducting an internal investigation of the security department personnel. If the investigation reveals that additional security employees are involved in the drug ring, the appropriate company authority should contract with an outside security service for a full-scale investigation
Finally, the human resources staff should distribute a written policy regarding illegal drug use at the workplace to all employees. The policy should state clearly that the company will contact the police if the staff finds any use of illegal substances in the workplace.
Apart from the primary concern about drugs in this case, one panel member raised an additional issue regarding Cameron's dinner invitation to Sally. Given the professional relationship portrayed between them, the invitation seemed appropriate. However, if Sally was uncomfortable with the way he asked or the idea of contact outside the work environment, she should state any objections firmly and directly up-front.
Most employers are not as fortunate as Cameron–he simply made a pit stop in a public bathroom and "caught" his employees doing drugs, and then the police took over.
Drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace has become a severe problem for employers. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that between 10 percent and 23 percent of all
workers abuse drugs on the job. As a result of the human and economic costs of drug abuse on the job, many employers have adopted policies and programs designed to achieve drug- and alcohol-free workplaces.
Companies should establish and enforce workplace policies that prohibit the use, distribution, or sale of illegal drugs on company premises. When a company is confronted with obvious criminal drug activity, as illustrated in this story, the police should be called. Remember: employers should not put themselves in the position of appearing to be an "agent" of the police (see the commentary in Deadbeat Dad.)
Excerpted from Sex, Laws, & Stereotypes, by N. Elizabeth Fried, Ph.D.©