Last week the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that an employee who had been fired after being caught smoking marijuana at work was punished too harshly and should be reinstated to his job.
An arbitrator has previously ruled that Gregory Linhoff shouldn’t have been fired from his maintenance job at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington; instead he should have been suspended and put on probation due to his spotless record going back 14 years on the job.
The state of Connecticut appealed the ruling and it was overturned by a Superior Court Judge. Linhoff’s union then appealed to the state Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously in favor of the arbitrator and Linhoff and against the state and the Superior Court judge. But the Supreme Court judges didn’t mince words with Linhoff.
"The misconduct at issue was completely unacceptable, and we do not condone it," Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers wrote in the decision. But in the end the judges felt his exemplary record meant he deserved a second chance.
"By the arbitrator's estimation, (Linhoff's) personal qualities and overall record indicate that he is a good candidate for a second chance," Judge Rogers continued. "Moreover, the discipline the arbitrator imposed was appropriately severe, and sends a message to others who might consider committing similar misconduct that painful consequences will result."
One of the issues the state Supreme Court had with the Superior Court judge’s ruling was the tradition that the decisions of arbitrators should be overturned only in extreme circumstances. They obviously did not feel this was one of those circumstances.
In the end is should be up to employers whether or not their employees can smoke weed on “company time.” But having said that, we also live in a society where cannabis has been needlessly deemed illegal and dangerous. In that context, anything that leads to more liberty for cannabis users is a victory for the movement.