*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told by a family friend, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
In today's highly connected world, it can be difficult to draw a clear line between work and life. Employers and employees alike are struggling to maintain a healthy balance. The question of whether an employee should be disciplined for something they did outside of work is complicated.
On the one hand, employers may feel that they have a right to expect their employees to uphold certain standards at all times. On the other hand, employees may feel that their employer has no business meddling in their personal life.
Ultimately, the answer will depend on the specific situation and the company's policies. However, it is important for both employers and employees to remember that everyone is entitled to a private life outside of work. As long as an employee is meeting their obligations at work, they should be free to live their life as they see fit.
My mother's coworker was late for work because she got caught in a traffic jam on the highway. The woman felt stressed out thanks to the prospect of getting in trouble at work and the anxiety of driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic. So she smoked a cigarette to soothe her nerves.
It wasn't just any cigarette; it was, as my mother calls it, a marijuana cigarette. Possessing marijuana was perfectly legal; she had a medical marijuana card. Nonetheless, she hoped no one she knew would see her smoking.
She sat in traffic, smoking and stewing, while she waited for the cars in front of her to move. When she glanced to the right, she recognized a familiar face in the next car. It was her store manager.
The boss looked at her and smiled. Then he raised one hand and wiggled his fingers in a funny wave.
My mother's coworker knew he had caught her. It was as clear as the expression on her manager's face. She smiled innocently and waved back before rolling down her window to allow the smoke to dissipate.
By the time the woman got to work, she had prepared herself to get called into the office for a lecture, or worse. Every time she saw the manager pass by her work area, she steeled herself for what she knew was coming to her.
Every time, he walked past her without saying a word or even acknowledging her. As the night wore on, she began to wonder whether he had even recognized her when he saw her in her car. Maybe she had gotten away with it.
She was relieved to clock out at the end of her shift without incident, and she was ready to put the incident behind her.
The following morning, when she arrived for work, she nearly ran smack into the manager by the door. "How was the traffic coming into work today?" he asked her.
She told him it was fine.
"The traffic on my way to work was awful yesterday," he replied. "If I hadn't quit smoking years ago, I probably would have lit one up to calm my nerves." Then he winked at her and never mentioned it again.