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Total Articles: 55

Quest Diagnostics Report Reveals That Prescription Drug Misuse Remains Widespread

A new Quest Diagnostics report released on September 6, 2017 reveals that over 50% of drug test results showed evidence of misuse of prescription drugs. The report, entitled “Prescription Drug Misuse in America: Diagnostic Insights in the Growing Drug Epidemic,” examined 3.4 million prescription medication monitored lab tests performed by Quest between 2011 and 2016.

Federal Court Dismisses Employer’s Claims For Indemnification and Contribution Against Drug Testing Vendor After False Positive Drug Test Result

A federal court in South Dakota granted a motion to strike and a motion to dismiss filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the laboratory that conducted drug tests for the Defendant employer, holding that the employer was not entitled to seek indemnification or contribution from the laboratory for damages based on a false positive drug test result. EEOC v. M.G. Oil Company, No. 4:16-4131-KES, (D.S.D. August 10, 2017).

In the First Case of its Kind, Court Rules Federal Law Does Not Trump Employee Protections under State Medical Marijuana Law

Employers nationwide take note: if your workplace drug and alcohol-testing policies take a zero tolerance approach to medical marijuana because the use, distribution, or possession of marijuana is unlawful under federal law, a recent federal court decision interpreting state law could be a game-changer. On August 8, 2017, in Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company LLC, d/b/a Bride Brook Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, a Connecticut federal district court held that various federal laws prohibiting use and sale of marijuana do not preempt Connecticut’s Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA), which protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on medical marijuana use permitted under state law.

Federal Law Does Not Preempt Connecticut Medical Marijuana Law Employment Discrimination Prohibition

Federal law does not preempt the Connecticut medical marijuana statute’s prohibition on employers’ firing or refusing to hire qualified medical marijuana patients, even if they test positive on an employment-related drug test, the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut has held. Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co., LLC, d/b/a Bride Brook Health & Rehab. Ctr., No. 3:16-cv-01938 (D. Conn. Aug. 8, 2017). This is a case of first impression that may have potentially sweeping implications for state law and the federal Controlled Substances Act.

America’s Opioid Epidemic and the Workplace: Should Employers Change Their Approach to Drug Testing?

As many as 50,000 Americans may have died in 2016 as the result of an opioid-related overdose. This number continues to increase with no end in sight, as the use of prescription opioids to relieve pain has reached staggering levels. In 2012, more than 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, with the current number undoubtedly being much higher. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.

Sobering Results: Recent Study Suggests Drug Use Is Up Among American Workers

A recent study conducted by the drug testing company Quest Diagnostics indicates that the rate of positive drug test results among the U.S. workforce is at a 12-year high, driven by increased cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana use. The study’s results track an alarming trend that highlights the continued need for vigilance for signs of use and abuse in the workplace as well as comprehensive prevention, testing, and treatment programs.

Employer Drug Testing in the Age of Legalization

With medical marijuana now legal in 29 states and recreational marijuana use permitted in eight states plus the District of Columbia, some employers are understandably concerned about this trend, especially with a recent Quest Diagnostics report showing drug use at its highest level in 12 years. But these legalization laws don’t mean your company drug testing program necessarily needs to go up in smoke.

First-of-Its-Kind Medical Marijuana Ruling Finds Employer Acted Illegally

A Rhode Island state court has found a company liable for refusing to hire a medical marijuana cardholder for a paid internship because she could not pass a preemployment drug test. The court held in Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics Corp. that the employer acted illegally even though the applicant admitted that she would test positive on the company's mandatory drug test.

Quest Diagnostics Annual Survey Shows Drug Test Positivity Rates Continue to Climb

According to the annual Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index published yesterday, illicit drug use among U.S. employees continues to rise, resulting in the highest drug test positivity rates in the last 12 years. This nationwide survey of more than 10 million workforce drug test results revealed:

QBB Review: What employers should know—but often don’t—about employee substance abuse

Many employers believe that alcohol and substance abusers are primarily unemployed or unemployable. Data shows the opposite. Indeed, one study estimates that 90 percent of alcoholics and 74 percent of drug addicts are employed. Recent studies also demonstrate that 8.7 percent of full-time U.S. workers ages 18 to 64 are heavy drinkers, and 8.6 percent of these workers used illegal drugs in the past month. The upshot, for employers, is that alcohol or substance abuse is almost certainly affecting, or has recently affected, at least one—if not more—of your employees.

eLABORate: April 20th Puts Medicinal Marijuana Laws in High Focus

Employers should know that popular culture celebrates April 20th a/k/a “Four-Twenty” as an unofficial holiday. Four-twenty is a code term that refers to the annual consumption of marijuana and the celebration of cannabis culture. Observances that revolve around the number 4:20 include smoking or ingesting marijuana at 4:20 p.m. and during other portions of the day. Because employers may anticipate an unusual number of “call-ins” and/or “no-shows” on April 20th, it is time to review the medicinal marijuana laws and drug testing statutes that impact employment eligibility and other workplace issues.

Applicant Who Failed Pre-Employment Drug Test Could Not Show That Public Employer Violated Her Due Process Rights or Title VII

A federal district court recently dismissed a lawsuit in which a job applicant challenged a public employer’s decision to withdraw an offer of employment after the individual tested positive for cocaine on a pre-employment drug test.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal of Public Employee For Failing Random Drug Test

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas did not violate a public employee’s Fourth Amendment rights by requiring the employee to submit to a random drug test or by terminating his employment when he tested positive for cocaine, according to a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Washington v. Unified Government of Wyandotte County, Kansas, 847 F.3d 1192 (10th Cir. 2017).

Congress Passes Resolution to Block Obama Administration Restrictions on Drug Testing Those Seeking Unemployment Benefits

On March 14, 2017, the U.S. Senate approved House Joint Resolution 42, which earlier passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and blocks the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) regulation limiting states’ ability to drug test unemployment benefit applicants. Once the 2016 resolution is finalized, states will no longer be limited by the regulation’s narrow definition of which occupations regularly conduct drug testing. The president is expected to sign the resolution soon.

U.S. Senators Seek Clarification From Department of Justice Regarding Federal Marijuana Enforcement Priorities

In light of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s recent comments that the Department of Justice may seek “greater enforcement” of the federal laws prohibiting the recreational use of marijuana, eleven U.S. Senators sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions seeking clarification of the DOJ’s position.

Trump Administration May Enforce Federal Laws Prohibiting Non-Medical Use of Marijuana

In one of the Trump Administration’s first public statements on recreational marijuana, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated in a press conference today that the Department of Justice may seek “greater enforcement” of the federal laws prohibiting the recreational use of marijuana.

DOT To Add Synthetic Opioids To Its Drug Testing Panel

Today the U.S. Department of Transportation published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register in which it proposes to amend its drug testing program regulation to add four synthetic opioids (hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone) to its drug testing panel. DOT also proposes to add methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as an initial test analyte, and remove methylenedioxyethylamphetamine, (MDEA) as a confirmatory test analyte.

FMCSA Finalizes Rule On National Drug and Alcohol Testing Clearinghouse

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a final rule on December 2, 2016 establishing a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse database for commercial motor vehicle drivers. This new database will contain information pertaining to violations of the DOT’s drug and alcohol testing regulations for holders of commercial driver’s licenses. Although the rule takes effect on January 4, 2017, the implementation date for FMCSA-regulated employers is January 6, 2020.

The Employment Law Implications of the Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

On November 8, 2016, voters in several states passed medical or recreational marijuana measures each of which will likely impact employers. As this area of law is developing quickly, and since the Trump administration’s position on marijuana is unclear, employers may want to consider the impact of these new laws as well as watch for new developments.

Seven States Pass New Marijuana Laws on Election Day

Election Day 2016 saw voters approve new marijuana laws in seven states. There are now a total of 28 states (plus the District of Columbia) with medical marijuana laws and 8 states (plus the District of Columbia) with recreational marijuana laws. Arizona’s proposed recreational marijuana law did not pass.

The Straight Dope on the Marijuana Measures: Which Ones Passed and Which Went Up in Smoke

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, voters in nine states with marijuana-related measures on their ballots made their voices heard. California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada voters approved recreational adult-use marijuana initiatives while Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas approved medical marijuana initiatives. These results are considered to be a big win in favor of marijuana reform. Marijuana possession and use continues to be illegal under federal law, however.

Marijuana Ballot Initiatives Big Winner on Election Night

While much attention focused on the presidential election, at least three states voted to legalize recreational marijuana on election night with a fourth likely to join them. Voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada voted to legalize recreational marijuana state-wide. Meanwhile, those voting "yes" for a similar measure in Maine have a slight lead, though the race is still listed as "too close to call."

Marijuana Legalization Efforts Enjoy Success, Demonstrating Major Shift in Approach to Drug Regulation and Use

Election Day 2016 proved to be a historic occasion for initiatives favoring expanded access to marijuana. On November 8, California and Nevada joined West Coast early adopters Alaska, Oregon, and Washington in choosing to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. On the East Coast, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. Whether Maine will join Massachusetts in approving recreational marijuana use in New England is yet undecided, as an initiative to legalize is currently too close to call with 91 percent of the vote counted, according to local press. Arizona voters, however, rejected an initiative to legalize marijuana sales for recreational purposes.

eLABORate: EEOC Sues Employer Over Positive Drug Test for Prescription Opioid Painkiller

In recent years, the abuse of prescription opioid pain medication has become a widely reported national epidemic. The New England Journal of Medicine reports millions of Americans are addicted to prescription pain medications, and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record with the majority of deaths from opioids. The CDCP reports that 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Prescription opioid abuse also has been linked to the national increase in heroin addiction. Commonly prescribed opioid painkillers include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (Kadian, Avinza) or medications containing codeine

Positive Drug Tests of US Workers at Highest Level in a Decade

The percentage of employees testing positive for illegal drug use has reached a 10-year high, according to an analysis by Quest Diagnostics of nearly 11 million workforce drug test results. According to this annual survey, positive drug tests for marijuana, amphetamines and heroin have increased every year for the past five years.

Eight States Will Vote On New Marijuana Laws On Election Day 2016

Currently, twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws, while four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. On Election Day 2016, eight more states will consider adopting such laws.

Consistent Enforcement of Drug Policies Key to Avoiding Disparate Treatment Claims

Following termination stemming from a positive drug test for marijuana, a Native American female, appearing pro se, filed a federal lawsuit against her former employer, Mohave County’s Public Works Department. She alleged discrimination based on race and/or ancestry, a violation of her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and a violation of due process rights. On July 19, 2016, Senior U.S. District Judge for the District of Arizona, James A. Teilborg, issued an order granting summary judgment for the defendant Mohave County on all claims. Yazzie v. County of Mohave, No. CV-14-08153 (July 19, 2016).

eLABORate: April 20th Puts Medicinal Marijuana Laws in High Focus

Employers should know that popular culture celebrates April 20th a/k/a “Four-Twenty” as an unofficial holiday. Four-twenty is a code term that refers to the annual consumption of marijuana and the celebration of cannabis culture. Observances that revolve around the number 4:20 include smoking or ingesting marijuana at 4:20 p.m. and during other portions of the day. Because employers may anticipate an unusual number of “call-ins” and/or “no-shows” on April 20th, it is time to review the medicinal marijuana laws and drug testing statutes that impact employment eligibility and other workplace issues.

Up in Smoke: Federal Court Rejects Claim that Employer Failed to Accommodate Medical Marijuana Use

As more states legalize marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, the interplay among such laws, accommodation requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or equivalent state laws, and employers’ drug-free workplace policies is playing out in the courts.

Eighth Circuit Rules Minnesota's Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act Has Multi-State Reach

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently expanded the reach of the Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act1 (“DATWA” or “the Act”) by ruling that the Act can apply to the employees of Minnesota-based employers working in other states whenever there are “significant contacts” between the state and the parties or the facts giving rise to the claim. In Olson v. Push, Inc.,2 the Eighth Circuit ruled that Minnesota’s drug testing rules applied to a Minnesota applicant for a West Virginia job because the employer did business in Minnesota, hired a Minnesota resident, and permitted a pre-employment drug test to be conducted in Minnesota. Because Minnesota’s DATWA imposes some of the most significant restrictions on workplace drug and alcohol testing in the country, the Push case requires prudent Minnesota employers to consider whether the Act applies to individuals employed in out-of-state positions and to adjust their testing protocols.

Why Employers Need to Update Their Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policies in 2016

The beginning of a new year is a good time for employers to review their workplace policies to assess what changes are necessary. Employers that conduct drug and alcohol testing should consider updating their substance abuse testing policies now, particularly if they have not done so in several years.

Top 10 Reasons To Update Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policies in 2016

With the beginning of a new year, it is time to make resolutions and review old, outdated workplace policies. Employers who conduct drug and alcohol testing should consider updating their drug and alcohol policies in 2016, particularly if they have not done so in several years. Here are the top 10 reasons why:

FMCSA SLASHES RANDOM DRUG TESTING PERCENTAGE RATE FOR 2016

Motor carriers subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration drug and alcohol testing requirements in 2016 will have to conduct significantly fewer random drug tests for drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), including certain trucks and buses, and spend less money on that testing, the U.S. Department of Transportation agency said recently .

FMCSA Lowers Random Drug Testing Level to 25 Percent in 2016

On December 21, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it is reducing the minimal annual percentage rate for random drug testing for drivers subject to the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) drug testing rules from the current rate of 50 percent of the average number of driver positions to 25 percent. This reduction is effective in calendar year 2016. The decrease does not prevent motor carriers from testing at a higher rate than 25 percent in 2016. The minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing will remain at 10 percent.

Legal Medical Marijuana Use No Defense for Failed Drug Test, Federal Court Finds

A federal district court in the state of Washington has ruled that employers do not have to accommodate the use of medical marijuana if they have a drug-free workplace, even if the marijuana is being used off-site to treat an employee's disability. The ruling is notable because Washington has legalized marijuana not only for medicinal use but for recreational use as well.

Hair Testing Guidelines Coming Within A Year For Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers

President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act on December 4, 2015, a law that funds improvements to the nation’s roads, bridges, transit systems, and rail transportation network for a period of five years.

Employee Termination Upheld Due To Failure To Comply with Employer’s Prescription Medication Policy

A federal court in Utah upheld the termination of an employee who did not disclose his use of prescription medication in accordance with his employer’s policy. Angel v. Lisbon Valley Mining Co., Case No. 2:14-CV-00733 (D. Utah Nov. 23, 2015).

Employee Failed to Show that Positive Drug Test Result For Barbiturates Was Discriminatory

A federal court in Georgia rejected an employee’s claim that his termination after a positive drug test result for barbiturates was discriminatory. Roman v. Leggett and Platt, Inc., Case No. 3:14-CV-20 (M.D. Ga. Nov. 3, 2015).

President Announces Efforts to Target Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Epidemic

During a visit to the state of West Virginia on October 21, 2015, President Obama addressed the country’s growing prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic by announcing several efforts to address these issues.

Drinking On The Job? Five Things Employers Need To Know In The Wake Of The USC Football Coach Controversy

Football powerhouse USC (University of Southern California) fired its head football coach Steve Sarkisian on October 12, 2015, after it was widely reported that the coach had been under the influence of alcohol during several team events. His termination can teach a lesson to any employer who wonders how it should handle the sometimes-touchy situation involving possible alcohol abuse by an employee. This article presents the five things you need to know in order to navigate this problem.

Do Your Employees Have the Right to a Union Rep During a Drug Test?

On August 27, 2015, a three-member panel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued Manhattan Beer Distributors, LLC and Joe Garcia Diaz, (29-CA-115694) finding that an employer had unlawfully denied an employee his right to the physical presence of a union representative during a reasonable suspicion drug test. This case has implications for all employers conducting drug tests in a unionized setting.

Reasonable Suspicion Alcohol Test of Employee Was Justified After Bar Fight and Diagnosis of Alcoholic Pancreatitis

Reasonable suspicion alcohol testing of a safety-sensitive employee who was injured in a bar fight and who took medical leave for “acute alcoholic pancreatitis” was upheld by a federal court in Indiana, even though the testing did not take place until the employee returned to work after his medical leave ended. Foos v. Taghleef Industries, Inc., 2:13-CV-00438 (S.D. Ind. Sept. 22, 2015).

Federal Court Finds “Field Preemption” of Minnesota Drug Testing Statute

It has long been recognized that federal regulations mandating drug testing for certain employees in safety-sensitive industries preempt contrary provisions in Minnesota’s state drug testing law known as “DATWA” (Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act). But some Minnesota practitioners have argued for years that employee protections in DATWA should not be preempted if they are not explicitly in conflict with federal law. A recent order from the District of Minnesota has likely put an end to this line of reasoning. MN Airlines, Inc., d/b/a Sun Country Airlines v. Levander, No 15-CV-2454 (PAM/BRT) (D. Minn. Aug. 28, 2015).

Minnesota Court of Appeals Provides Helpful Roadmap For Employers Who Conduct Drug Testing

The Minnesota Court of Appeals handed employers a rare win under the Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (“DATWA”), upholding dismissal of a wrongful discharge case after an employee who tested positive for drugs did not comply with the recommended treatment because he wanted to choose a different treatment program. Jones v. Green Bay Packaging, Inc., No. A15-0017 (Minn. Ct. App. Aug. 10, 2015).

New CDC Report Discusses Trends In Growing U.S. Heroin Epidemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have published a new report discussing trends in the growing heroin epidemic in the United States. The July 7, 2015 report examined data from the 2002 – 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which revealed significant increases in heroin use and addiction, as well as a 286% increase in heroin-related overdose deaths during that period. The greatest increases in heroin use have occurred in groups with historically low rates of heroin use, including women and individuals with private insurance and higher incomes. In the past decade, the gaps between men and women, between individuals with low and higher incomes and between individuals with Medicaid and private insurance have narrowed with respect to use of the drug.

Employee’s Positive Return-to-Duty Drug Test Result Warranted Termination Despite Employer’s Use of Low Cutoff Concentrations

A Texas oil refinery whose substance abuse policy said an employee “whose drug test is positive, regardless of the reasons for the test,” would be considered in violation of company policy and “will be terminated from employment” meant what it said, a labor arbitrator has concluded. The policy, along with an agreement requiring that an employee seeking assistance for a claimed drug problem abstain from drug use, justified the discharge of an employee who tested positive for marijuana on a return-to-duty drug test, even though the cutoff levels for positive results were low. Valero Services, Inc. and United Steelworkers Int’l LLC, 134 LA (Bloomberg/BNA) 1704 (FMCS Case No. 14/500024, May 4, 2015) (Scheiber, B., Arb.).

School Bus Driver’s Alcohol-Laced Cupcakes Did Not Violate Employer’s Rule Barring Intoxicating Beverages From Company Property, Arbitrator Rules

A labor arbitrator has upheld the grievance of a school bus driver who was terminated from her job with a bus company after she brought alcohol-laced cupcakes to work, and offered them to other employees. He found that she was not fired for “just cause” under the collective bargaining agreement because the bus company’s policy barring the presence and use of “intoxicating beverages,” on which the employer relied, was inapplicable to the grievant’s alcohol-infused cupcakes. First Student, Inc. and Teamsters Local Union 957, 134 LA (Bloomberg/BNA) 1699 (May 26, 2015) (Fullmer, J., Arb.).

Miners & Marijuana

As in other industries, mining companies must contend with employees and contractors using or being under the influence of illegal drugs in the workplace. Marijuana is one of the most prominent substances detected in drug screens of job applicants. Mine operators have routinely made blanket prohibitions against marijuana for safety and legal compliance. But what about marijuana prescribed for medical purposes? And what about recreational use of marijuana during non-work hours in states that allow marijuana use without a prescription? These are just a few of the issues faced by employers.

National Safety Council Urges Employers to Take Steps to Address Employee Addiction to Opioid Pain Medications

The National Safety Council (“NSC”) has published a report entitled Prescription Pain Medications: A Fatal Cure For Injured Workers, urging employers to educate employees about the dangers of using opioid pain medications – such as addiction and death – while also taking steps to avoid potential liability in workers’ compensation and personal injury litigation.

Growing Opioid Abuse Presents Problems For Employers

Over the past 25 years, workplace drug testing has become increasingly widespread and accepted and for good reason — many companies that implemented drug testing saw dramatic decreases in employee accidents and injuries. In some cases, the declines exceeded 70 percent. Moreover, many applicants who use illegal drugs now know better than to waste their time applying for work at companies who make their testing policies known.

Drug Testing In Your Non-U.S. Operations

Many U.S.-based employers perform pre-employment, post-accident, or random drug testing. With some exceptions, they are generally permitted wide latitude in deciding when to conduct such tests. But the U.S. attitude toward drug testing does not necessarily translate to other countries, where there may be different attitudes toward employee privacy in particular. U.S.-based employers can run into trouble when attempting to impose those same testing requirements on a foreign division or subsidiary.

Cross-Border Employers Must Take Care Before Implementing Drug-and-Alcohol-Testing Policies at Non-U.S. Operations

Many U.S.-based employers perform pre-employment, post-accident, or random drug testing, and with some exceptions, are generally permitted wide latitude in deciding when to conduct such tests. The U.S. attitude toward drug testing does not necessarily translate to other countries, however, where there may be different attitudes toward employee privacy, in particular. U.S.-based employers can run into trouble when attempting to impose those same testing requirements on a foreign division or subsidiary.

Why Employee Drug Screening Can Help Your Business

Most firms find drug testing programs to be a worthwhile investment.

Be Careful Discriminating Against Medical Marijuana Users

There are sixteen states which allow legal medical marijuana use. However, most of them do not have laws which protect employees from discrimination based on their drug use. Do you fire someone who fails a drug test, even if you know they legally use medical marijuana?

Up In Smoke: The Rise Of Medical-Marijuana Laws.

As more states enact laws allowing patients to ingest marijuana as a means of coping with various diseases and symptoms, the question quickly arises for human resources professionals about how this affects the employment relationship. If employees are legally allowed to smoke at home to manage night seizures, are they still going to be affected by marijuana the next day at work? Do you have to accommodate this?