Behaviors That May Lead To A Reasonable Suspicion Test
Reasonable suspicion drug testing determinations are sometimes the most challenging aspects of a drug-free workplace program, yet can have a profound impact on safety, well-being and productivity. So we wanted to ask, what are the common behaviors that may lead to a reasonable suspicion test?
For non-regulated testing, an employer has the ability to create their own definition of a reasonable suspicion test where federally-regulated employers must follow strict guidelines, like in the trucking industry. However, when it comes to non-regulated testing, the Department of Labor and the states where the employer does business may have input, so be sure to check all state laws before implementing the reasonable suspicion program in your policy. An employer should plan for: how to make the determination regarding who and when to test, how to document the reasonable suspicion activity, and what actions will be taken.
Determinations should always be made based on current information. In the absence of current signs and symptoms, a reasonable suspicion drug test would generally not be merited on a past incident. When evaluating signs and symptoms, we often hear the words ‘specific’, ‘contemporaneous’ and ‘articulable’ in reasonable suspicion drug testing determinations because these words indicate that the observer has a specific and current concern that can be described.
For example: John came to work today late. He clocked in and then fell asleep in the break room. When I woke him up, he was not startled to see me. He looked at me and went back to sleep. There was a strong odor of alcohol.
- Odor of alcohol on the body or breath
- Slurred speech
- Unsteady standing or walking
- Inability or difficulty completing routine tasks
- Disorientation or confusion
- Erratic or unusual behavior
For the trucking industry, according to the FMCSA, a driver may undergo a controlled substances test for reasonable suspicion “based on specific, contemporaneous, articulable observations concerning the appearance, behavior, speech, or body odors of the driver.” These required observations must be made by a supervisor or company employee official who is trained for reasonable suspicion.
Common Mistakes to Prevent:
- Create a policy that clearly lays out the reasonable suspicion guidelines and make sure it takes into account state law.
- All supervisory personnel should reasonable suspicion signs, symptoms and documentation. Recurrent training is highly recommended to keep supervisors educated and prepared. For the trucking industry, all supervisors or anyone in charge of drivers must receive a minimum of two hours of training on have this training. For owner operators, if the wife is doing your books and manages while you are on the road, she should have this training. If the husband and wife both drive, they both need the training as they are supervising while the other drives.
- Under no circumstances the employee under suspicion should not be allowed to drive themselves to the collection site (or elsewhere) without a negative drug test result.
Have you experienced these issues in your own business or have questions about reasonable suspicion training, policy, or setting up a program? Contact us today at (503) 479-6082.