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Employers should consider a prescription drug use policy to avoid lawsuits

Why Employers Should Consider a Prescription Drug Use Policy

If your workers are engaged in safety-sensitive duties, know if they are using prescription medications.

The issue of privacy has become a matter of paramount importance in modern life, particularly with regards to medical issues.

Health care professionals and their assistants are constrained from revealing a person’s medical history and treatment without the express permission of their patients. However, in the workplace, liability can attach to an employer if an employee causes an accident, and the issue of liability can be exacerbated if the employee was impaired by an undetected use or misuse of legal prescription drugs. It’s a good idea for employers in safety-sensitive industries to be proactively aware if their employees are using prescription medication that may physically and mentally impair them.

Unfortunately, there is no case directly on point with regards to an employer mandating disclosure of prescription drug use by its employees on the job. However, analogies can be drawn from the current cases related to drug testing in key states like California and New York.

Reviews appear to indicate that required disclosure of prescription drug use may be upheld if:

  • The employee is engaged in safety-sensitive duties.
  • The drug in question may impact the employee’s ability to engage in safety-sensitive duties adversely.
  • The disclosure is only related to on-the-job drug use.
  • The information required to be disclosed is treated by the employer with the utmost discretion in order to safeguard the employee’s privacy. (Read More)

Michelle MacDonald