Subscribe:Posts Comments


You Are Here: Home » Articles, Daily Digest » Drug Testing and How It Impacts Injured Employees

From New York Times Article – Drug Testing Posses Quandry for Employers

There was a great article in the New York Times this week on the impact of Drug Testing after an employee is injured on the job. The article follow several employees who were terminated because they had positive drug test – based on their ability to work safely…

Exert from New York Times Article – Click Here to Read Complete Article on Their Website:

Drug Testing Poses Quandary for Employers

By KATIE ZEZIMA and ABBY GOODNOUGH

LAWRENCEBURG, Tenn. — The news, delivered in a phone call, left Sue Bates aghast: she was losing her job of 22 years after testing positive for a legally prescribed drug.

Her employer, Dura Automotive Systems, had changed the policy at its sprawling plant here to test for certain prescription drugs as well as illicit ones. The medication that Mrs. Bates was taking for back pain — hydrocodone, a narcotic prescribed by her doctor — was among many that the company, which makes car parts, had suddenly deemed unsafe.

“I don’t think it should end the way it did,” said Mrs. Bates, an assembly line worker who has sued Dura for discrimination and invasion of privacy. “You tell somebody you lost your job because you’re on prescription medication and they’re like, ‘Yeah, right.’ ”

Two decades after the Supreme Court first upheld the right to test for drugs in the workplace, Dura’s concern — that employees on certain medications posed a safety hazard — is echoing around the country. The growing reliance of Americans on powerful prescription drugs for pain, anxiety and other maladies suggests that many are reporting to work with potent drugs in their systems, and employers are grappling for ways to address that.

What companies consider an effort to maintain a safe work environment is drawing complaints from employees who cite privacy concerns and contend that they should not be fired for taking legal medications, sometimes for injuries sustained on the job.

“This may be the point guard for an important societal issue,” Dr. Robert T. Cochran Jr., a Nashville pain specialist who treats three of the Dura plaintiffs, said of the lawsuit against Dura. “How do we address these drugs as a society?”

There is a dearth of data from independent groups regarding impairment from prescription drugs in the workplace, partly because the issue has not drawn broad scrutiny. But Quest Diagnostics, a prominent provider of workplace drug tests, said that the rate of employees testing positive for prescription opiates rose by more than 40 percent from 2005 to 2009, and by 18 percent last year alone. The data, culled from the results of more than 500,000 drug tests, also indicated that workers who were tested for drugs after accidents were four times more likely to have opiates in their systems than those tested before being hired.

Continue Reading Article on New York Times Website:

Join the forum discussion on this post

© 2010 Return to Work Resources · Subscribe:PostsComments · Designed by Theme Junkie · Powered by RTW Resources