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Court upholds observed urination for rail workers during drug tests

by on
in Employment Law,Human Resources

A federal appeals court in Washington has upheld a government rule that requires railroad and other transportation workers who have been treated for drug abuse to be observed while they urinate for drug tests.

Any workers who refuse to be watched by a same-sex observer could lose their jobs. The rule applies to all transportation workers in safety-sensitive jobs.

The Transportation Department passed the “direct observation rule” last year after widespread reports of cheating on the urinalysis tests, such as by substituting clean urine of another person for the person being tested.

“The department has reasonably concluded that the proliferation of cheating devices makes direct observation necessary to render these drug tests – needed to protect the traveling public from lethal hazards – effective,” the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. wrote. “Weighing these factors, we strike the balance in favor of permitting direct observation testing in these circumstances.”

The rule was opposed by BNSF Railway, several transportation unions and the Association of American Railroads.

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