'Undercover Boss': Donatos Owner Jane Grote Abell Fires Worker For Smoking Pot On Job

Donatos delivery driver Aaron was both a hard worker and a fan of marijuana.

'Undercover Boss': Owner Discovers Employee Smoking Pot On The Job

Workers are also human beings and so need to unwind at some point during their day. There are of course infinite ways to blow off steam in 2013, and increasingly, turning to marijuana is becoming an acceptable option in the U.S.; last year saw the complete legalization of marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington. Smoking up, however, is still not as innocuous an option as having a cup of coffee. And Donatos pizza delivery driver Aaron learned this the hard way on the most recent episode of "Undercover Boss."

As can be seen in the video above, Aaron thought he was confiding about his hobby in a woman named, "Cathy Cooper," who said she was shadowing him as part of her appearance on a second chances reality show in the hope of opening her own restaurant. That was not the case. He was in fact being followed around by Jane Grote Abell, the owner and chairman of the board of Donatos Pizza, the Ohio-based pizza chain that grosses around $170 million a year.

Indulgent and industrious
"A lot of people smoke pot and they will, like, invite me to go in for a little bit and I'll kind of indulge," he casually told her while working his delivery route. The announcement shouldn't have come as a complete shock -- Aaron makes deliveries on the campus of the Ohio State University, and undergrads are famous for their cannabis proclivities. The news also didn't seem to be the confession of a complete burnout -- Aaron had already demonstrated a tireless work ethic on the job, actually running to make his deliveries, even making sure to call customers by their name, as is company policy.

In fact, Aaron was the "perfect picture of what a delivery driver" should be, Abell told the camera shortly before she found out about his other special deliveries. Upon hearing the news, Abell was both distraught and torn. She said she didn't know what to do. But during the reveal, she made it clear she had no choice. "When you told me when you smoked pot on the job, I've never been so angry in my life," she told him, citing the illegality and potential risk he was posing on the job. "You know, I have to let you go as a delivery driver," she said.

This wasn't the first time a worker has been fired on the hit CBS show, now in its fifth season. The other times workers have been let go, however, it was for having a terrible attitude. Last season, for instance, Jacqueline, an employee of a Retro Fitness gym in New Jersey, was fired after she defended her choice to play on her smart phone during her shift by saying, "I am not a f------ slave!" Ronnie, who also appeared last season as a worker for Boston Market, was dismissed after he explained how he "hates the customers" and referred to himself as the "the Kim Kardashian of Boston Market."

High, and then rehired?
Those two workers were let go with a very clear message: hospitality is probably not for you. A bad attitude is apparently a much more fundamental problem than a taste for marijuana, as Aaron learned. After she let him go in the show's reveal, Abell made a quick deal with her energetic employee. If he could pass a drug test in 30 days he'd be welcome to return to the kitchen. "You do a lot of the right things, [you're] fast on your feet," she told him. "Don't let me down. Don't let yourself down," she added.

The opportunity for such a quick rehabilitation, and the comfort with which Aaron shared his pot penchant, is in keeping with the growing acceptance of marijuana in the United States of America. In addition to the complete legalization of marijuana in the two western states, a full 19 states have approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. (Aaron's home state of Ohio hasn't made marijuana legal, but it has passed laws decriminalizing possession, making possession of less than 100 grams a minor misdemeanor, or the equivalent of a traffic ticket in the state, according to local outlet WKSU.)

And with the federal government having recently announced it will not try to block the legalization test-cases in Colorado and Washington, there may be a day in the near future when "Undercover Boss" makes a pit stop at a fully legal marijuana company. After all, this is a market that was worth $1.2 billion in 2011, as was recently noted by the Economist, which also added, "the ground at last appears to be clearing for the cannabis industry in America." Employers, however, are probably still going to reserve the right to ban workers from smoking marijuana during working hours.

Abell's visits to her company's sites were not without the usual reminders of America's workers overcoming difficult odds to complete their work. There was Buffy, for instance, an assistant manager for Donatos in Vienna, Va. She commutes 40 miles each day to work, as she had to abruptly change her career path after her life fell apart two years ago. She used to be a general manager at a hotel. But after a party she accepted at the hotel's conference center ended with a 19-year old employee being shot to death by one of the party attendees, she "felt responsible," she said, and left the job.

Her marriage was also falling apart at the same time, and so she decided to start over with Donatos. And there she was on the show, hustling around the kitchen, making sure all the toppings were placed pizzas "edge to edge," as is her assignment.

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The announcement shouldn't have come as a complete shock -- Aaron makes deliveries on the campus of the Ohio State University, and undergrads are famous for their cannabis proclivities.

Proof please. Seriously. I want written proof of this.

October 23 2013 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

DUI is DUI. What you do in your spare time is yours. What you do on my time is mine. Good riddance. Good for her for giving him a chance to do right and good for him for choosing to do so.

October 16 2013 at 4:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Stephen Lin

It was incredibly stupid of the guy to admit to smoking pot and then driving while on the job. Sure, everyone may do it, but who would admit to that on national TV where corporate exces will be watching? I think that would get you fired from almost any job.

October 16 2013 at 12:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Kofi, I own a pizza shop in Colorado. It is perfectly legal and safe to top a pizza without gloves. It goes through an oven at 472 degree's for anywhere from 7-11 minutes after being handled which kills ANY bacteria it may have encountered. If she had touched the pizza's with no gloves after running it through the oven, or made a salad with no gloves, that would be a different story.

October 16 2013 at 10:33 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to SHIT MONKEY!!!!!'s comment

may be legal ,hope you washed your hands after you picked your nose and butt....remind me never to eat at your shop...yuk..whats its name.

October 28 2013 at 2:39 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Kofi Nantwi

The laziest Undercover Boss I have ever watched. She cannot deliver, prepared pizza without any gloves on with all her rings on, literary shut down a restaurant when she was at the front desk and last, the most horrible of it all, stood by and watched an employee do all the work and the take out window. All Undercover bosses I have watched try to do the work, even if they can't handle it just like the employers but this CEO did not even try. I felt completely disgusted when she went about preparing pizza without using any gloves. You want to kill a whole city.

October 15 2013 at 8:08 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I think it was funny he smokes pot on the job. But to fire him was wrong. I guess she is now empowered and feels good to fire a minimum wage worker. Stepping on the little people in this world is wrong. The guy has a bad job and he smokes to get some enjoyment on the bad job. He did not hurt anybody to tamper with the food.

October 15 2013 at 3:41 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to envoyltd's comment
E Lady E. McLaughlin

The major thing you're ignoring is this: if for whatever reason he got pulled over by the cops after smoking and they found evidence, he could be charged with DUI. (Yes, DUI applies to marijuana use as well.) So as a driver, smoking on the job is not something he should do.

October 16 2013 at 10:18 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I ... aahhhh ... fweeep ... thinkits ... funny ... (giggle giggle) ... when I watched him ... fweep ... err ... what was I taking about ... I forget ... pfeeew

October 19 2013 at 10:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If marijuana helps people get through the drudgery and pressures of their lives and doesn't cause brain damage or cause accidents, I see nothing wrong with it. Life is not easy in our country, at this time. The rich just keep getting richer and the poor get poorer. The unfairness of it all is more than sufficient to cause anxiety.
--- No. I don't smoke pot. There's enough dust in the air to damage my lungs; I wouldn't want to add smoke to it.

October 15 2013 at 3:16 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to zstir5's comment

Life is easier in our country at this time than any time in history. Stop feeling sorry for your self and get into the game ... of life.

October 19 2013 at 10:16 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

i vote for ..I Q tests instead...

October 28 2013 at 2:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Another silver platter child given everything. This is an excuse of a Owner, handed down a business, never earning wealth herself. Get with the times people don't give a **** about minimum wages jobs. Keep smoking my friends.

October 15 2013 at 2:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Typical corporate blowhard

October 15 2013 at 2:43 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

I watched this show and was disapppointed that she didn't try to help the young man. All she did was threatened to fire him and then a "change of heart" made her take him off the delivery and throw him into the kitchen. He is now missing out on good tips and he seemed like he was a hard worker. Instead, in my opinion, she should have offered drug counseling, random ongoing mandatory drug testing for all employees, and told him that as he was a hard worker, if he followed the rules, he could possibly advance within the company in the future. Perhaps even offering to help with further education as long as he was iworking for them. Instead, she demoted him and I got the feeling she was hoping he would just quit so he would just diappear. He seems like a sweet person who deserves better. The other empoyees were okay although I felt like the woman that she promoted to general manager was performing for the camera and knew it was Undercover Boss. Something in her story didn't feel right to me (she gave up her children to find another job??? in another state)...and yet she received $70,000 and a promotion. She may be a good employee off camera but I don't buy into her sob story.

October 15 2013 at 2:39 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lemoncoke2's comment

Might read the whole story, lemon, instead of dashing off comments.

October 19 2013 at 10:18 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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