A recent Illinois case illustrates how employers can get into expensive litigation if their drug-testing vendors don’t follow proper procedures when conducting random drug tests.
Douglas Miller worked for North American Lighting, based in Paris, Ill. In late 2004, he was selected for a random drug test performed at the Paris Community Hospital. The test came back negative.
In early 2006, he was selected again. This time he informed the hospital his doctor had prescribed Avenza for him, which contains morphine. The test came back positive for opiates, but also for THC, the active chemical in marijuana. Miller claimed he had not smoked marijuana in 26 years and pointed to his earlier negative drug test. The company fired him anyway.
Miller sued both his employer and the hospital, claiming the hospital didn’t follow all of the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations for securing the testing site and handling the sample.
North American Lighting moved to have the case dismissed and the court agreed.
But when the hospital tried the same move, the court didn’t go along. It said a jury should have a chance to weigh Miller’s previous negative drug test and his contention that he hadn’t smoked marijuana in many years. The case will now go to trial.
Advice: Choose carefully when selecting a vendor to handle drug testing. The security and integrity of the process is crucial. It’s worth asking for references from other employers in your area.
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