Testing employees for drugs is important for many reasons. But one reason is significant. Employees under the influence of drugs can injure and kill members of the public and other employees in the workforce.
If you are not conducting random drug testing, you will not communicate a clear message to your workforce you will not tolerate substance abuse. And, a plaintiff attorney could easily convince a judge you don’t care whether or not your employees are under the influence of a substance.
The article highlighted below presents the deadly ramifications of employees impaired while operating in a safety sensitive capacity. The article reports “Two Amtrak maintenance workers had opioids or cocaine in their systems when they were struck and killed south of Philadelphia last year by a passenger train whose engineer had marijuana in his system, according to federal officials”.
In addition to random drug testing, let’s talk about what employers should do, particularly those employers in states where marijuana has been legalized as a medicine. We hear questions from many of our clients about what they should do in this environment.
Below are some major considerations:
· Perform a thorough job analysis the includes the purpose or reason the job exists, where the job will be, skills and knowledge need to complete the tasks.
· Have a clear job description that can be presented to the applicant, can provide the basis for employee performance reviews. Make sure you comply with applicable federal and state laws.
· Have a very clear understanding of each state’s particular laws regarding the use of drugs, particularly marijuana.
· Given that marijuana may be legal in a state to treat diseases and illnesses, an employer may be required to engage in communication with the employee about the illness so as to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
· Conduct random drug and alcohol testing on employees in applicable job positions.
· In states where medical marijuana is allowed for diseases and illnesses, employers need to treat knowledge of an employee being required to use marijuana as though they qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Can reasonable accommodations be made?
If you need help completing these tasks write us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, place HR360 in the subject line and we will be glad to provide an annual subscription to HR360 service.
The key step is to perform a thorough job analysis and have a clear job description. The job description should make it clear that operating in that job without being under the influence of any substance is one of the essential functions of the job.
If employers operate in states where marijuana, that doesn’t mean that there is a carte blanche acceptance of an employee under the influence of marijuana. We have written that an employer need not tolerate an employee under the influence of alcohol. Why should operating under the influence of a drug be different, even if it is marijuana? This job description becomes particularly important where employees are in safety sensitive operating machinery or vehicles that can injure or kill.