In the 49 CFR Part 40, 40.21 states that an employer is prohibited from standing down an employee before the MRO has completed the verification process. Can you just clarify what that means for me? It sounds as if the employer cannot remove an employee from a safety sensitive position as they are waiting for results from the MRO. If that is the case, it sounds counter intuitive for safety especially if there was reasonable suspicion. Or am I just not understanding it?
Great question, you are correct in your interpretation. When the regulations were written this was a controversial issue. In the end, there was an emphasis on balancing the employees’ rights and the program. The prohibition on the stand down is to make sure an employee is not labeled as a drug user before there is a confirmed and verified test result.
In the case of reasonable suspicion, it is common practice per company policy to remove the employee from the safety sensitive position from the time of the reasonable suspicion incident until the confirmed and verified test result is received.
Supervisor Training remains critical in making reasonable suspicion determinations.
Check out our Video Blog on “Reasonable Suspicion” and how does it affect employers?