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  1. I have heard that there are three different "drug/alcohol testing programs" used by the City. If this is true, what are they?
  2. Who manages the three drug/alcohol testing programs?
  3. If I have an employee who I suspect has reported to work after taking drugs or drinking alcohol (or drank/took drugs after reporting for work), what should I do?
  4. What are some signs I should look for (and document) to support a request for a drug/alcohol test?
  5. What if I am not quite sure about an employee's drinking or use of drugs? Should I hold off testing until I am sure?
  6. An employee operating a heavy duty truck (Class A or B license) is involved in an accident. Should I call personnel to schedule a DOT test before allowing the employee to return to regular (driving) duties?
  7. I have suspicions about an employee, but not enough evidence to warrant a drug/alcohol test. Can I arrange for the employee to be tested on a "random" basis?
  8. Why does someone have to take the employee to the testing location, and maybe home afterward?
  9. What do I do if an employee refuses to go with me to MSD for a drug/alcohol test?
  10. What happens to the employee who goes for the test, as ordered, but refuses to take the test?
  11. What should I report on the payroll for an employee taken off duty due to a positive drug/alcohol test?
  12. I am confused. First you say to take discipline for insubordination for not taking a drug test. Then you say discipline an employee refusing to take a drug test for either AW (Non-DOT) or for a positive drug test (DOT). Which is it?
  13. I have a new employee in a position requiring a Class A or B license. Do I need to explain the DOT Drug Testing Program?
  14. What is a "Random Test"?
  15. What if an employee is selected for a random test on his day off or while on vacation?
  16. What if an employee selected for a random test is not expected back to work for some time? What should I do?
  17. I understand that it may take days to get the test results. What do I do with the employee in the meantime?
  18. Following a positive drug or alcohol test, how long will it be before the employee can return to work?
  19. I understand that there are very strict rules governing DOT test procedures, that supervisors need to know. How can I find out more about these rules?

I have heard that there are three different "drug/alcohol testing programs" used by the City. If this is true, what are they?
That's easy. There is a DOT Testing Program and a Non-DOT Testing Program. Oh, and the third is a Pre-Employment Testing Program for safety sensitive (risk) job. DOT stands for the federal Department of Transportation. DOT Regulations require employers test Class A or B licensed drivers (commercial license holders) for alcohol and drugs on a random basis as well as "for cause." All other employees are subject to drug/alcohol testing on a "for cause" only (and on a random basis after a positive "for cause" test).

The Pre-Employment Drug Testing Program is part of the pre-employment medical examination for safety-sensitive (risk) jobs that new employees undergo before starting to work for the city. This FAQ addresses only the DOT and Non-DOT testing programs.

Who manages the three drug/alcohol testing programs?
The Medical Services Division (MSD) of the City Personnel Department. The Personnel Division in GSD coordinates test scheduling and handling test results with GSD supervisors and staff of MSD.

If I have an employee who I suspect has reported to work after taking drugs or drinking alcohol (or drank/took drugs after reporting for work), what should I do?
First, do not assign the employee any "safety-sensitive" (risk) duties.

Second, document any observations of unsafe or unstable work performance, or any other evidence that leads you to believe that the employee has taken drugs or has been drinking. Identify possible witnesses to the employee's behavior or suspicious actions.

Third, contact your Liaison Personnel Analyst in GSD Personnel Services Divison for guidance on completing forms that will be required by MSD (different forms, depending on if DOT or Non-DOT). Follow the instructions of the personnel liaison analyst.

Fourth, take the employee to the nearest location where a drug/alcohol test can be administered for the City. See the DOT Network 24-Hour Clinics list.

What are some signs I should look for (and document) to support a request for a drug/alcohol test?
The more obvious signs include slurred speech, difficulty walking, difficulty focusing the eyes, and the odor of alcohol on the employee's breath. Another obvious sign is if the employee is cited for driving under the influence (DUI) while at work or just prior to reporting to work.

There may be less obvious signs of drug/alcohol use. For example, an employee may tell another employee that a coworker has been drinking or using. Maybe the coworker himself told someone that he had been drinking or using, during or before reporting to work. These are warning signals, and should cause you to be vigilant for physical signs such as those mentioned in the preceding paragraph before you arrange a test.

A "history" of drug/alcohol abuse is not, by itself, sufficient to warrant a "for cause" test. It may lead you to be more observant of the employee's behavior at work, though.

What if I am not quite sure about an employee's drinking or use of drugs? Should I hold off testing until I am sure?
No. Always err on the side of safety and welfare of the employee, other employees and the public. If you have suspicions, but not sure they are enough for a test, do not assign the employee any "risk" work and call your Liaison Personnel Analyst.

We would much rather test someone who should not have been tested than not test someone who then hurts herself or others because she was drunk or high (impaired).

An employee operating a heavy duty truck (Class A or B license) is involved in an accident. Should I call personnel to schedule a DOT test before allowing the employee to return to regular (driving) duties?
Yes: Call your Liaison Personnel Analyst. A DOT test is required as soon as possible if:

  1. The employee was issued a citation
  2. There was a fatality or an injury that required treatment away from the accident site
  3. Any vehicle involved in the accident had to be towed from the accident site.

I have suspicions about an employee, but not enough evidence to warrant a drug/alcohol test. Can I arrange for the employee to be tested on a "random" basis?
No. If this is a Non-DOT situation, we do not arrange for random, drug/alcohol tests. The only time that Non-DOT employee is randomly scheduled (no advance warning) for a test is when the employee has already tested positive and was subsequently cleared by MSD to return to full duties. MSD will contact the personnel office when they want the employee in for a test.

If the employee is a DOT (Class A or B licensed) employee, MSD will arrange for any random tests, not the supervisor or personnel office.

In the situation described in the question, all the supervisor can do is document suspicions and keep in touch with the Liaison Personnel Analyst.

Why does someone have to take the employee to the testing location, and may be home afterward?
We cannot allow an employee suspected of drinking alcohol or using drugs to operate a vehicle until cleared by a doctor. Even after the test is administered, supervisors have to make arrangements for the employee to return to the job site or to go home. The employee should not be permitted to drive while under suspicion for drug/alcohol use. Have someone pick him up, put him on a bus, or have someone drive him home. (Note: This does not pertain to random tests.)

What do I do if an employee refuses to go with me to MSD for a drug/alcohol test?
Whether DOT or Non-DOT, set up the situation such that if the employee refuses to go to MSD with you or someone else designated by you, the employee is "flagrantly insubordinate." To do this, make sure:

  1. you give the employee a clear directive (order) - 3 times if possible
  2. that he understands the order and the consequences (discipline for insubordination) if he does not comply immediately
  3. there are witnesses to the order(s)
  4. he knows you are authorized to give the order
  5. he understands the order and there is no obstacle preventing him from complying
  6. the order is to accompany you or your representative to the test location (don't order that he take the test, only that he goes)
  7. there is a clear failure to comply with your order(s)

If after all this the employee still refuses to follow your direct order to go for the test, discuss the next step with your division manager. The immediate question is whether to allow the employee to continue working, assign him non-risk duties, or take the employee off duty with or without pay while exploring discipline or insubordination. Your division manager may want to contact Personnel Services to discuss these options before making a decision.

Your division manager should request formal discipline through the Personnel Director (see FAQ's on Discipline).

The bottom line is that we need to make a refusal to comply with the order to go for a test more "costly" to the employee than if he had gone and tested positive.

What happens to the employee who goes for the test, as ordered, but refuses to take the test?
If the employee is Non-DOT, the Examining Physician at the location will determine if a test is necessary, based on the information provided by the supervisors (form) and an examination of the employee. If the employee is "ordered" by the doctor to take a test, and refuses, the doctor most likely will place the employee off duty until he complies with the test. Record the employee AW (unauthorized absence) for time off the job as a result of a positive test - and then consider recommending discipline for the AW time.

If the employee is DOT, any refusal to take the test is considered a positive test and the employee is placed off duty (AW) immediately and remains off duty until cleared by MSD. (The employee will be disciplined as a result of a positive DOT drug/alcohol test, even if not tested.)

What should I report on the payroll for an employee taken off duty due to a positive drug/alcohol test?
You should record the employee's time on the payroll as AW. If the employee presents proof that the SAP's recommended action has been completed, you can then change the payroll records to reflect vacation, sick, compensatory (overtime) time off, or leave without pay (LW). If the test results later show that the employee was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then change the payroll records to reflect leave with pay (LP).

I am confused. First you say to take discipline for insubordination for not taking a drug test. Then you say discipline an employee refusing to take a drug test for either AW (Non-DOT) or for a positive drug test (DOT). Which is it?
You are not confused. We need to clarify this point. Insubordination results from not going to the test location as ordered by the supervisor. Discipline for AW or a "positive test" results from refusing to take the test once at the location. It's kind of like, "You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink." We can order an employee to report for a drug test, but we cannot order him to take the test (give urine sample).

I have a new employee in a position requiring a Class A or B license. Do I need to explain the DOT Drug Testing Program?
You MUST give the employee a copy of the City of Los Angeles booklet entitled Information for Drivers Subject to Alcohol and Drug Testing". Have the employee sign a form acknowledging receipt of the booklet. If you don't have copies of the pamphlet and/or forms, contact your Liaison Personnel Analyst.

What is a "Random Test"?
A drug test that is not scheduled with advanced knowledge or warning to the employee. You will be contacted by someone in the Personnel Services Division and asked to get a certain employee to a test location during that work shift.

Remember, random tests are for Class A or B licensed operators (DOT), or for DOT and Non-DOT employees who need to take follow-up tests after a positive drug/alcohol test.

What if an employee is selected for a random test on his day off or while on vacation?
Wait until the employee returns to work to order her to report for the test. Keep it a surprise, but it must be conducted during the month the request was made.

What if an employee selected for a random test is not expected back to work for some time? What should I do?
Immediately notify the test coordinator in Personnel, or your personnel liaison analyst in Personnel.

I understand that it may take days to get the test results. What do I do with the employee in the meantime?
If the test is "for cause" (e.g., physical appearance or after an accident), MSD will place work restrictions on the employee pending results of the test.

Do not give the employee any assignments that would be risky (driving, operating machinery or forklifts, etc.). If there are no "non-risk" assignments available, the employee will have to be taken off duty (and arrangements made to get him home). He should be carried AW on the payroll.

Following a positive drug or alcohol test, how long will it be before the employee can return to work?
An employee who tested positive cannot return to full duty until cleared by MSD. Usually MSD requires the employee complete counseling or rehabilitation, and one or two negative drug/alcohol tests. Even after returning to full duty, MSD will schedule up to three random tests over the next twelve months.

I understand that there are very strict rules governing DOT test procedures, that supervisors need to know. How can I find out more about these rules?
Make sure you get your own copy of the "Supervisor's Guide to Federal Department of Transportation Drug/Alcohol Testing of Employees in the City of Los Angeles". You can get a copy from your division safety coordinator, the Department Safety Officer in Personnel Services, or your Liaison Personnel Analyst. This booklet gives detailed information on procedures and forms. You can also call the Department Safety Officer or your Liaison Personnel Analyst for assistance.

You should also make sure that all of your DOT employees (in positions requiring a Class A or B license) are given a copy of the "Information for Drivers Subject to Alcohol and Drug Testing" published by the City.

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