In 2016 we reported on OSHA’s anti-retaliation rule related to the reporting of illnesses and injuries. The rule prohibited employer retaliation against employees reporting workplace injuries and illnesses, and implementation of policies that discourage accurate reporting. At the time the rule was finalized, OSHA clearly indicated it would be interpreted strictly and would affect employer incentive programs and post-accident drug testing policies.

On Oct. 11, 2018, OSHA published a memorandum changing its position, taking a significantly more relaxed approach on this anti-retaliation rule. OSHA states that it “does not prohibit workplace safety incentive programs or post-incident drug testing.
Continue Reading Does your workplace foster a culture of safety? New OSHA memo relaxes rule on drug testing policies and incentive programs

In response to the nation’s opioid epidemic, the Department of Transportation (DOT) amended its testing program requirements to require inclusion of four semi-synthetic opioids, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone and oxymorphone, to the required drug testing panel. DOT also added methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) to the panel and removed methylenedioxyethylamphetaime (MDEA) as a confirmatory test analyte as redundant since

On Monday, a federal judge in Texas refused to issue an injunction stopping OSHA from enforcing certain aspects of controversial “non-retaliation” rules. We reported on the proposed OSHA rules on Oct. 27, 2016. Briefly, the most controversial aspects of the rule are on two points:

  1. The rule would effectively prohibit incentive programs under which bonuses or other rewards are conditioned, at least in part, on the frequency of reported injuries. OSHA says that programs like that are a disincentive to reporting injuries.
  2. OSHA takes the position that drug testing programs that call for drug or alcohol testing automatically after an accident are improper. Instead, OSHA says that to be proper post-accident drug testing must be limited to circumstances where the facts at least suggest the possibility that alcohol or drug abuse played a part.

These two provisions had employers scrambling to review incentive and drug testing programs, and evaluating whether to make changes. Then a number of business interest groups filed a lawsuit in federal court in Texas seeking an injunction to stop these aspects of the rule form being enforced.
Continue Reading OSHA retaliation rules are going forward

On Oct. 11, 2018, OSHA published a memorandum changing its position, taking a significantly more relaxed approach on this anti-retaliation rule. Jourdan Day explains what this means here. 

In May 2016, we told you about OSHA’s final rule requiring electronic reporting of illnesses and injuries. This rule requires electronic submission of your OSHA logs, and the information provided will be posted on OSHA’s website. However, in the comments about the new reporting rules OSHA addresses anti-retaliation as it relates to the reporting of illnesses and injuries. The anti-retaliation regulations were originally scheduled to take effect Aug. 10, 2016 and later pushed back to Nov. 1, 2016. A lawsuit has been filed in the Northern District of Texas that could result in the anti-retaliation rules being delayed further or struck down. As a result of this lawsuit, OSHA has again postponed the effective date of the anti-retaliation provisions, which are now set to be effective Dec. 1, 2016. It is likely the court in Texas will act during November on the case. We will follow this lawsuit closely and report any developments or further delays. Importantly, although the lawsuit challenges certain aspects of OSHA’s interpretations of the retaliation aspects of the law, it does not have any impact on the electronic recordkeeping effective dates as we reported them in May.
Continue Reading Hidden anti-retaliation provisions in OSHA’s electronic reporting rule: How are incentive programs and drug testing policies affected?

The recent decision out of Texas in Sechler v. Modular Space Corporation highlights a recurring issue for employers — managing employees who return to work following rehabilitation for substance abuse.
Continue Reading Texas Federal Court Decision Addresses ADA and FMLA Issues Arising From Employee’s Return From Alcohol Rehab

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") has published another final rule which takes effect today, February 29, 2012. This rule addresses the drug use of commercial motor vehicles drivers, and the FMCSA aims to eliminate inconsistencies in at least three areas.

First, the final rule amends the physical qualifications for commercial motor vehicle ("CMV") drivers to clarify that drivers may not, under any circumstances, use Schedule I drugs and be qualified to drive a CMV. This change aligns the language with that used by the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA") in its regulations. The final rule now cites to 21 CFR part 1308, making it clear that the rule applies to the drugs and substances on the DEA’s controlled substance schedules.

The prior rule did not differentiate between Schedule I and non-Schedule I drugs for purposes of the prescription exception, so the Agency amended §391.41 to clarify that the exception that allows a CMV driver to use a substance or drug if it is prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner, applies only to non-Schedule I prescribed substances, amphetamines, narcotics, or other habit-forming drugs.

Secondly, the FMCSA amends §§382.201 and 382.215 because it found the use of the term "actual knowledge" throughout certain sections of the rule was incorrect. The words "actual knowledge" have been replaced with the word "knowledge," clarifying that the relevant prohibitions refer to the knowledge of test results, not employer observation of prohibited conduct.

Lastly, prior to this final rule, §382.211 only prohibited drivers from refusing to submit to post-accident, random, reasonable suspicion, or follow-up drug or alcohol tests. The final rule amends this section to include pre-employment and return-to-duty testing as additional provisions. The final rule makes the regulation consistent with DOT-wide drug and alcohol testing rules.


Continue Reading Drug Rules for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Updated

Many employers may be surprised to learn that the ADA’s prohibition of medical examinations treat alcohol tests differently from tests for illegal drugs.

Under the ADA, employers may not require employees to undergo medical examinations or inquiries unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity. Unlike tests for illegal drug use, the EEOCs’ enforcement

Earlier this week, we reported on a New York Times article about employer efforts to address the impact of prescription drugs in the workplace. The article profiled workers at the Dura Automotive Systems Inc. plant in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee who were terminated for testing positive for prescription drugs that Dura considered to raise safety issues. Yesterday, the Sixth Circuit