On this page:
- Disciplinary Action and Sanctions for Non-Compliance
- Legal Sanctions
- Additional Employee Responsibilities
- Counseling and Rehabilitation
The federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires employers who contract with or receive grants from agencies of the federal government to maintain a drug-free workplace. In addition, the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989, as a condition of the institution receiving federal funds or any other form of financial assistance under any federal program, requires all institutions of higher education to adopt and implement a program to prevent the use of illegal drugs and the abuse of alcohol by students and employees. The health risks associated with the use of alcohol and illegal substances are significant. Alcohol or any other drug used in excess over time can produce illness, disability, and death. The health consequences of substance abuse also can be immediate and unpredictable, such as cardiac arrest, or more subtle and long term, such as liver deterioration. In compliance with the requirements of these laws, and in order to provide a safe and healthy environment in which employees and students may work and study, Wheaton College has established a drug prevention program. That program is described in the policy statement included here. Students and employees of the college are notified annually of the requirements of this policy.
Wheaton College prohibits the illegal use, possession, manufacture, distribution, dispensing, or other transfer of any controlled substances, in any amount, by any college employee or student while: (1) on college premises or property owned by the college, (2) performing any job-related activity, on or off college premises, or (3) participating in any college activity, on or off college premises.
The terms drugs and controlled substances, as used in this policy are defined in accordance with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and includes all substances classified as illegal drugs pursuant to the CSA. Those terms do not include medication prescribed by a properly licensed and authorized health professional, provided that the medication is taken strictly in accordance with the health professional’s instructions and provided that the possession and use of such drugs does not adversely affect job performance or the safety of students and employees or others. (Employees are to consult with their physicians about the effect of such prescribed medications on their fitness for duty and ability to work safely and disclose any work restrictions promptly to the Human Resources Department or their supervisor. Employees are not expected to disclose underlying medical conditions.)
Also prohibited is the use or possession of alcohol by any employee or student while: (1) on college premises, (2) engaged in any job-related activity, on or off college premises, or (3) participating in any college activity, on or off college premises. An exception to the prohibition on the use or possession of alcohol is made for the moderate and responsible consumption of alcohol by individuals of legal age at functions at which college authorization to serve alcoholic beverages has been obtained in accordance with college policies, and at other college sponsored events for employees that are primarily social in nature, provided that consumption at such functions is moderate and responsible, and limited to individuals of legal age and does not pose a risk to the safety of the individual or others. Faculty and staff members who live in college owned property shall be permitted to possess and consume alcoholic beverages in their residences.
In addition, no employee may be under the influence of alcohol or any drugs or controlled substances while operating a vehicle or equipment owned or leased by the college, or otherwise performing any work at or for the college.
Disciplinary Action and Sanctions for Non-Compliance
Employees who violate any provision of this policy may be subject to disciplinary action and sanctions, up to and including termination of employment. Students who violate any provision of this policy may be subject to disciplinary action and sanctions, up to and including expulsion from the college. Additionally, the college will notify law enforcement of violations of this policy, as appropriate in the sole discretion of the college. Actions in violation of this policy, including unlawful possession, use, or distribution of drugs or alcohol may subject an employee or student to criminal penalties.
In addition to disciplinary actions and sanctions imposed by the college, all students and employees should be aware that local, state, and federal laws make the illegal use of drugs and alcohol a serious crime. Conviction can lead to imprisonment, fines, and assigned community service. Felony and certain other convictions can prevent the convicted individual from eligibility for federal benefits, including student loans, from entering many fields of employment or professions, and may have to be listed on applications for employment or admission to graduate or professional schools. The overview of various relevant laws below is not complete, but provides a summary of the criminal penalties that employees and students may expect when convicted of the illegal use of drugs or alcohol. (Please note that these penalties may be subject to changes through the legislative and judicial process.)
Federal law imposes strict penalties for drug convictions, including mandatory prison terms for many offenses. Under federal law, distribution of drugs to a person under age 21 is punishable by twice the normal penalty, i.e., a mandatory one-year prison term; a third conviction is punishable by mandatory life imprisonment. These penalties apply to distribution of drugs in or within 1,000 feet of a college or school. Federal law sets greatly heightened prison sentences for manufacture and distribution of drugs if death or serious injury results from use of the substance.
Persons convicted of drug possession under state or federal law are ineligible for federal student grants and loans or for participation in federally sponsored research grants or contracts for up to one year after the first conviction, and up to five years after the second; the penalty for distributing drugs is loss of benefits for five years after the first conviction, 10 years after the second, and permanently after the third. Federal drug trafficking convictions may result in denial of federal benefits for up to five years for a first conviction.
Penalties for federal drug trafficking convictions vary according to the quantity of the controlled substance involved in the transaction. Penalties for subsequent convictions are twice as severe. See 21 U.S.C. 841. If death or serious bodily injury results from the use of a controlled substance which has been illegally distributed, the person convicted on federal charges of distributing the substance faces a mandatory life sentence and fines ranging up to $8 million. Persons convicted on federal charges of drug trafficking within 1,000 feet of a university (21 U.S.C. 845a) face penalties of prison terms and fines which are twice as high as the regular penalties for the offense, with a mandatory prison sentence of at least one year.
Persons convicted on federal charges of possessing any controlled substance face penalties of up to one year in prison and a mandatory fine of no less than $1,000 up to a maximum of
$100,000. Second convictions are punishable by not less than 15 days but not more than two years in prison and a minimum fine of $2,500. Subsequent convictions are punishable by not less than 90 days but not more than three years in prison and a minimum fine of $5,000.
Additional information on the substances regulated by the federal Controlled Substances Act, and the criminal penalties for the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance is available on the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control website. Information on mandatory minimum penalties for federal trafficking of Schedule I, II, III, IV, and V controlled substances is available on the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration website.
Many cities and towns in Massachusetts, including Norton, have local ordinances and regulations which prohibit public consumption of alcoholic beverages or consumption of alcoholic beverages on private property without the owner’s consent. Massachusetts laws punish sale or delivery of alcoholic beverages to persons under 21 with a fine of up to $2,000 and six months imprisonment, or both. Misrepresenting one’s age or falsifying an identification to obtain alcoholic beverages is punishable by a fine of $300. First conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol has a penalty of a $500–$5,000 fine, one-year revocation of driver’s license, up to two-and-a-half years in prison, and mandatory alcohol rehabilitation. Massachusetts makes it illegal to be in a place where heroin is kept and to be “in the company” of a person known to possess heroin. Anyone in the presence of heroin risks a serious drug conviction. Sale and possession of “drug paraphernalia” is illegal in Massachusetts. Additional information about the penalties imposed for violations of Massachusetts law preventing the illegal use of alcohol and drugs can be found on the Massachusetts legislature website.
Additional Employee Responsibilities
Any employee who is found guilty, or pleads “no contest”, to a charge of violating a criminal statute involving the manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of any controlled substance in the workplace must inform the Director of Human Resources within five (5) days of such conviction or plea. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.
Counseling and Rehabilitation
The college strongly encourages employees and students to seek assistance for problems with drug and alcohol abuse. A number of counseling and rehabilitation programs are available to individuals, on a confidential basis, to provide education, counseling, and coordination with available community resources to address drug and alcohol abuse problems. Students may contact the College Counseling Center for confidential treatment and also for referrals. Employees may seek confidential referrals through the Employee Assistance Program, which provides assistance and referrals to employees and their families in handling problems such as alcoholism and chemical dependency.