HR Filter: I think I have an employee conducting drug deals in parking
November 20, 2013 8:19 AM   Subscribe

HR Filter: I think I have an employee conducting drug deals in parking lot.

Thing is: I have never witnessed it. Various employees have witnessed what they deemed an exchange and have mentioned it to me.

This is not a labor worker, he is a purchaser. We do not drug test.

Advice for how to deal with a situation like this considering all proof is circumstantial and the meetings could be innocent?

A fellow employee asked the alleged dealer about the exchange he saw and the his response was "Don't worry about it." Well this makes me worry about it
posted by cheechman85 to Work & Money (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Call the police and tell them of your suspicions. Let them take care of it.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:25 AM on November 20, 2013 [20 favorites]


If your company owns the parking lot, can you put up a security camera or two?

Theoretically, you could also put up a few dummy cameras in the parking lot to dissuade him. As long as he's not transacting on company property, it's at least not your problem anymore.
posted by phunniemee at 8:27 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does your company have a drug-free policy that specifically prohibits drug distribution? You could send it to everyone via email as a reminder.
posted by amarynth at 8:27 AM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I guess if I were an HR person and someone responsible for spending money and having things delivered to the company exhibited this behavior, drug dealing might be the best case scenario from your story. What if he's abusing his position to skim off the company?
posted by pwnguin at 8:28 AM on November 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


What is exactly the problem and what do you want to accomplish? Is he attracting unsavory characters to the parking lot? I mean, if the guy is just meeting with some one and then handing something off, that could be any number of totally legal things....Is there a larger problem other than just people's suspicions?
posted by ejazen at 8:28 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are you in the united states? If you are, I highly recommend you contact a labor and employment attorney to walk you through this.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:30 AM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


We do not drug test.

Some dealers, the smart ones, don't use.

Call the police and tell them of your suspicions. Let them take care of it.

Isn't this the obvious answer?
posted by three blind mice at 8:31 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah this isn't really an HR issue, this is a criminal issue (if it is true). Call the police non-emergency number and talk to someone there.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:35 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


other than puppetmcsockerson's good advice, the only other thing you could do is audit his purchasing accounts. can you imagine the potential blowback if you accused him of being a drug dealer and he turned out to be innocent?
posted by bruce at 8:37 AM on November 20, 2013


Why is it a problem? Go watch the excellent documentary The House I Live In and please reconsider subjecting someone who's not causing any issues to prosecution under our horrific drug laws.
posted by Unangenehm at 8:38 AM on November 20, 2013 [22 favorites]


Yeah this isn't really an HR issue, this is a criminal issue (if it is true).

It could be both, depending on company policy. For instance, some companies wouldn't care if an employee got arrested for illegal drug use outside of company property, but using illegal drugs on company property would be grounds for termination.
posted by amarynth at 8:40 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It may or may not be a criminal issue; it may or may not be an HR issue. Seriously, call a lawyer. An ounce of prevention is worth a stupid amount of litigation money later.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:41 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm gonna dissent here. Have a quiet personal talk with the employee. Then, set up dummy cameras. While dealing drugs on work property is a horrifically stupid and irresponsible thing (if he is indeed doing that), tossing someone into the criminal justice system is like tossing them in a fucking shark tank: it's not to be done lightly.
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:41 AM on November 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


If the person's work is satisfactory, I'd personally step away from the drug question and the impulse to play detective. I'd make it all about business. Remind your staff that the parking lot is there as a courtesy to them, and is not for conducting any sort of private business transactions, whether it's buying Beanie Babies off of Craigslist, splitting a carton of cigarettes from the reservation, getting weed, or anything else. That policy can be easily enforced without having to prove drug use. If the person's work isn't satisfactory, I'd approach it from that angle.
posted by tyllwin at 8:47 AM on November 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


A notice to employees that there have been reports of suspicious activity in the parking lot and to "stay safe" when getting to one's car might be enough to discourage that sort of thing.
posted by xingcat at 8:50 AM on November 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Talking to the person could really be an issue for you.

I would not call the police, either.

Unless this person is a really dedicated and wonderful employee such that you could never hope to replace them, I would lay them off, leaving them eligible for unemployment compensation and removing a source of difficulty for your office.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:52 AM on November 20, 2013


From the multitude of different perspectives I have received, I am sure some of you can see why this was a difficult for me.

I plan for the first call to be a lawyer and I'll go from there.

To answer some questions:

It isn't easy to lay off this individual, while his work ethic is unsatisfactory, he has been with the company for 10+ years and has learned a lot of info that would take time to translate to a new employee even if he/she has industry experience.

The fact that I have been approached separately, by three different people in different departments indicates to me these employees have an unsavory view of the alleged dealer. Which I tend to agree with, his has a ahem, history with DUI's etc. No previous drug history on record, which does not help.
posted by cheechman85 at 9:06 AM on November 20, 2013


Various employees have witnessed what they deemed an exchange and have mentioned it to me

This is the issue for me ... if three approached you, I would guess that many more are staying silent. I have no issue with drug dealers per se, but if others are noticing, then you have a problem.
posted by kanewai at 9:10 AM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since its been reported, you need to do something. It could easily become a safety and liability issue to the company. Since its been reported doing nothing may be tantamount to looking the other way or even implicit approval of the activity.
posted by TheAdamist at 9:26 AM on November 20, 2013 [14 favorites]


Did the employees see bricks of weed or baggies being exchanged? or just a guy talking to someone in the parking lot?
I mean, it might not be drugs. If they don't like the guy - then they're probably thinking the worst of the situation.
It actually brings to mind something that I do currently and just realized after reading this post that it may look suspicious to other coworkers. I meet up with my vaping (e-cigs) co-workers and exchange e-liquids. The three of us will place one order and when it arrives, we meet up and exchange the liquids (or parts) and cash.
posted by KogeLiz at 9:37 AM on November 20, 2013


I'd send out a blanket notice to all employes:

It has come to our attention that potentially illegal financial transactions appear to be taking place in our parking structure. We have a zero tolerance for any illegal behavior on company grounds. To insure the safety of all employees we have notified the local police department and we will increase our surveilance of all company property.

That's the first warning. It puts anyone who is shady on notice, that they HAVE been noticed, and that the authorities have been notified. No one in particular has been called out.

As for Mr. Cokehead in sector G. Start cross-training for everyone in that department, so if he gets his happy-ass arrested, or kills himself in a traffic accident, you're not left in the lurch.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:45 AM on November 20, 2013 [13 favorites]


Is there any behavior that the employee is doing impacting their work? Eg are they taking extra breaks to go outside to the parking lot? Are they late for work or returning from lunch because they are out in the parking lot? If so, then it sounds like there is a performance issue to address.

Is the parking lot company property? Because if it is not, and if the employee is not negatively impacting their performance by being out in said parking lot, then it's not really a workplace issue. If there are concerns re drug dealing, then this could be a police issue.

If this is happening on company property during work hours, I would schedule a meeting with the employee to discuss. You'd need to be prepared with some specific concerns though - like dates they were observed, and details of the impact to their work (ie 10 minutes late on Oct 21st).

Employee, I've noticed that on x day and x day you were late returning from your breaks. Can you let me know why?

On x date, when you were late for work, you were seen over in the parking lot. Is there a reason you did not return to work on time?

This is the opportunity to clearly re-set expectations for attendance/lateness, if that in fact is the issue. It's also the opportunity for the employee to provide you with an explanation.

As an employer, you need to take your employee's concerns seriously and show you are investigating any potential concerns. If you ignore this, you could risk creating a poisonous work environment where your employees will lose faith in management because they feel their concerns fall on deaf ears.
posted by caroo at 9:52 AM on November 20, 2013


his work ethic is unsatisfactory... I have been approached separately, by three different people in different departments indicates to me these employees have an unsavory view of the alleged dealer. Which I tend to agree with

To be honest it sounds like you're gonna have to replace this guy at some point anyway. Why put off the inevitable? If the only reason you're still keeping him on is that it'd take a while to train up a replacement, save yourself the trouble and start training one up now.
posted by ook at 10:12 AM on November 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Someone thought I was drug dealing in a parking lot. I was sharing a car with someone else and I'd drop the car off some mornings and hand them keys. I explained it to the building management and they stopped hassling me.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:23 AM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


This thread has given a huge amount of perspective that I don't think I could've found anywhere else. I truly appreciate all of your comments.
posted by cheechman85 at 10:24 AM on November 20, 2013


Just simply asking him what is going on in the parking lot may deter any actual future illicit activities as he would then know that people are noticing.

But, tbh, the bigger problem seems to be that you need to replace him anyways and may be dithering about that.
posted by edgeways at 11:26 AM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


This may be simplistic, but can't you just tell him to knock it off?

Call him in, tell him that it has been reported, say you are not accusing him of anything, but he needs to knock it off. Tell him future reports will be sent to the police, then follow through with that.
posted by I am the Walrus at 12:18 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"what they deemed an exchange" - thats not even close to enough to say the guy is guilty. I do "exchanges" in my work parking lot all the time - every time i dump some unwanted crap on craigslist its via the work parking lot because I dont want the deranged fucks showing up at my house. So yeah, to a creepy person watching me in the parking lot it might look like im doing lots of deals with unsavory folks, which is true, but there is certainly nothing illegal about it. I mean seriously - who has the balls to go to HR and accuse their coworkers of dealing drugs without PROOF.

If I was in HR, I would put the comments in the employees file or whatever, and leave it at that.
posted by H. Roark at 1:14 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


This fantastic comment about how to tactfully deal with some unsavory neighborhood behavior has the meat of how you could format an all-company message about "safety" in the parking lot:

I would consider leaving them a note saying that you've encountered some vandalism on your property recently, and you'd recommend them being alert to the risk of similar attacks. Say that you have alerted the authorities and put a number of security precautions in place, including motion-activated cameras. Tell them you'd be grateful if they'd let you know if they have any similar experiences so you can present the most forceful case possible to the police. Then wish them well.

It's quite a clever solution once you understand the question, which is much like yours...... The message will get through to someone up to no good, but would not impact someone trading Craigslist tchotchkes.
posted by lstanley at 1:48 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


You need to contact your company lawyers IMMEDIATELY and evaluate the company's liability. Allowing drug dealing to go on your premises, especially if because of complaints you are on notice that may be occurring, is a big problem. Risks include: civil forfeiture, liabilities to employees or visitors who are injured, liability to anyone who repurchases drugs your guy is selling, etc. Any advice you get should be filtered through employment law counsel too, of course.
posted by MattD at 1:51 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


At this point, the fact that you have complaints is a serious concern. The complaints are not merely how you became aware there may be a problem. This type of complaint can also be a problem.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:21 PM on November 20, 2013


Nthing - you really don't want your company parking lot to become known as a place to score drugs. Also nthing - if he's not performing satisfactorily, plan to let him go.

I've worked for a company that harbors people who are doing shady things. Really makes a place a shitty place to work in a hurry, and surprise! - they tend to steal from their company too.
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:29 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unangenehm: Why is it a problem? Go watch the excellent documentary The House I Live In and please reconsider subjecting someone who's not causing any issues to prosecution under our horrific drug laws.

There are two issues here. One is our (US) horrific drug laws, and our notably racist penal system. Another is the liability of the workplace, given those drug laws.

If the employee is conducting illegal business on company time and property - and I don't care if it's selling meth, BJs, or bogus pokemon cards - HR should protect the company first and foremost.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:55 PM on November 20, 2013


For those warning against sending a person into the drug system - this is not an individual smoking pot in their apartment. Or even someone selling drugs in their off time. The liability here is huge. HUGE. Imagine a worst case scenario, deal gone bad on company property. When investigators question witnesses, they rightfully state they reported the issue to the employer.

This persons job is to hear and respond to exactly these issues. And potential illegal drug activity on company property is something you consult a lawyer about, and report to the police if recommended. Advice to the contrary is not taking this seriously.
posted by shinynewnick at 11:04 PM on November 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


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