If it stands, a recent federal court decision could provide some clarity for Minnesota employers. Employees working in jobs regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation are subject to random drug testing and can be fired for a positive drug screen.
But Minnesota’s Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (DATWA) requires employers to offer drug rehabilitation to those who fail a drug test.
A flight attendant was drug tested in accordance with the federal Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991 (OTETA). She failed the test and her employer fired her.
She contacted an attorney who alleged the airline violated her rights under DATWA when it fired her. The attorney threatened to sue under DATWA.
The airline didn’t wait to be served. Instead it asked the court for a declaratory judgment stating that federal law preempted DATWA.
The federal judge obliged, stating that OTETA’s language was clear on the issue and that the Federal Aviation Administration had preempted from state law all drug testing issues within its realm.
Note: This is a very narrow ruling and the plaintiff may appeal. Employers that question which law applies to their drug-testing program should consult an attorney for clarification.