Drug paraphernalia discovery triggers companywide testing and industry warning

Sometime early in the first week of April, a crack pipe or other sort of drug paraphernalia associated with illegal drugs other than marijuana was discovered on a desk or work surface in the production area of Confluence Watersports.

Sometime early in the first week of April, a crack pipe or other sort of drug paraphernalia associated with illegal drugs other than marijuana was discovered on a desk or work surface in the production area of Confluence Watersports.

There are some at the paddlesports company, now based in Easley, S.C., who assert that the item was placed as a prank or April Fool's joke, SNEWS® was told. However, the joke backfired since, upon discovery, we were also told that the insurance policy that Confluence carries mandates immediate and unannounced, companywide drug testing, including management, or the policy is terminated.

Drug testing commenced and, as a result, approximately 60 folks, mostly from the production line, are no longer employed at Confluence. About half, we were told, refused to take the drug test for unstated reasons, resulting in immediate termination. The other half failed the drug test, resulting in immediate termination. Numerous calls to Confluence seeking comment from management went unreturned.

SNEWS® View: When the news of this incident first leaked, SNEWS® offices received calls and emails stating anywhere from 130 to 160 had being fired at Confluence, all because of failure to pass a random drug test -- and that seemed patently ridiculous to us. Since the communication lid at Confluence was shut down tighter than a waterproof seal on a boat hatch, SNEWS® was left to piece together the story by talking to Confluence dealers, past employees who still have relationships at the company, and even Easley locals (people in town do talk after all).

While many we spoke with were snickering over the simple fact a drug test was actually conducted at an outdoor industry company -- how many climbing, paddlesport and backpack companies do you know of that would pass a random drug test with flying colors? -- others pointed out, correctly, that this incident should serve as a warning. The times, they have changed.

The actions of one or a few can and will affect an entire company. Whether this was an April Fool's joke gone bad, or simply a very poor lapse in judgment by someone who has an addiction that needs help, the discovery of drug paraphernalia at Confluence could have had only one outcome -- mandated drug testing for the entire company, management on down. And, as a result, the action or actions of a few changed the lives of many good folks in a very painful fashion.

We cannot lose sight of the fact that in this day and age, insurance policy clauses, employment contracts and the like can and typically do now contain language that protects the company and the insurer in the case of illegal activity, suspected or otherwise, and that includes drug use.

Every decision in life has a consequence with ripples that affect you and others. Do not for a minute think this one incident, this one story, is about Confluence alone. That would be most naïve. This is about our entire industry and many other industries, all filled with good people. This is also about making good decisions. This is about knowing that what you decide to do today, might affect the lives of many tomorrow. Think about it.



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