Drug Abuse and Employee Morality Clauses
An employee morality cause is not required in every employment situation. It is usually used for people in high profile, public types of positions. However, the reality is that no matter what you do, you may be asked to sign one; in some cases even for low-profile positions. If your employer has one and taking drugs is cause for dismissal and you sign it, using drugs could cost you your career. Your drug use might even be monitored by scheduled and random drug tests. In some cases, police reports may be scanned by human resources officials for stories about area arrests. Because these clauses are not used by every employer for every employee, it is useful to know what they are in the event you are ever asked to sign one.
Simply put, a morals clause is a provision in a contract or other official document that prohibits certain behaviors in the private life of an individual employee. They are commonly used for public figures such as athletes, actors, broadcasters, etc. (These types of clauses may also be made part of divorce judgments related to preventing certain activities when children are present.) Morals clauses recognize the negative impact drug use can have on the company or brand under which the employee is associated. To guard against this risk, the employer can terminate the employee contract if it reflects poorly on the individual’s character, which by association rubs off on the employer.
Employers tend to like to see morals clauses apply as broadly as possible regarding behavior and/or related drug abuse. When an employer is in danger of being damaged by an employee, whether it’s an athlete or high-flying CEO, it understandably wants to part ways as soon as possible in order to mitigate damages. In fact, most employers want to be able to dictate the type of behavior that will trigger the right to terminate. However, if the morals clause is too broad, it may not be enforceable in court. It has to be clear what kind of behavior is prohibited.
Those who sign morals clauses want specificity in the language. They want the ability for the employer to terminate only to be allowed in extreme, well-defined circumstances. That’s why a moral clause might allow the employer to terminate only if the employee is convicted for a specific crime like a DUI or drug abuse. The language needs to be precise so that both parties understand exactly what’s in it.
For example, an arrest is not the same as a conviction. If termination for the conviction of a crime is included in the language then an employer would not be able to terminate for just an arrest. Termination is not the only solution. Fines may be levied. But whatever the penalty is, anyone who is required to sign a morals clause needs to make sure s/he can live with the consequences.
Whether or not your employer wants you to sign a morals clause, if you are abusing drugs call the trained addiction counselors at Recovery First now. We understand that addiction can take such a powerful hold on you that it can be impossible for some people to maintain the clauses in their moral contract. Take action to protect yourself by calling us now.