Consequences of Not Completing Reasonable Suspicion Training?

Your managers and supervisors are legally required to complete reasonable suspicion training if they are part of a DOT agency and USCG regulations require the training to be completed[1]. However, as a busy employer, you may wonder why you must train your supervisors when they have many other responsibilities to complete. Unfortunately, the consequences of your staff forgoing this training are varied and vast. While the consequences start with law violations, they certainly do not end there.

Fines & Fees

If your supervisors are not trained in reasonable suspicion when it is necessary for them to be, you are in clear violation of the law and are subject to fines and fees until compliance is met[2]. These fines vary depending on the industry and number of people that are found in violation of the law. However, these fines are inconsequential when compared to the more serious ramifications of under-trained supervisors.

Improper Documentation Can Lead to Lawsuits

Personal privacy is an employee right that is sensitive and easy to accidentally violate when proper training has not been implemented[3]. There are several ways in which a supervisor can cross the line when it comes to drug testing. When it comes down to word against word, the documentation that was recorded by the supervisor will be essential in protecting a business from litigation. When a supervisor orders a drug test, they must ensure that their documentation is written with attention to detail[4].

Details that must be included are:

  • Information on when and where the employee was observed.
  • What was observed to raise suspicions? Observations can range from erratic behavior to twitchy movement, strange speech patterns, emotions, physical appearance, or simply inaction like sleeping or a lack of reaction to questions[5].
  • The secondary trained manager, supervisor, or company official that was asked to assess the observation to determine if the suspicion is valid.
  • The actions are taken to protect the employee and his or her surroundings, such as removing them from safety-sensitive areas.

The documentation must be specific, non-accusatory, and packed with observations that can be interpreted as reasonable suspicion. Supervisors are taught the specifics of documentation in reasonable suspicion training.

If your company is taken to court, lawyer fees and potential settlement costs can range in the hundreds of thousands, if not the millions.

Incorrectly Handling a Situation with an Employee Can Lead to Uncomfortable Situations

It can be very difficult to properly handle situations with employees, especially if a supervisor does not naturally have the skills to deal with the varied responses of an employee that may feel defensive. When an employee is approached about a situation or behavior that triggered a supervisor to feel suspicious, reactions can range from fear to sadness and aggression. Part of reasonable suspicion training involves giving a supervisor tools to deal with uncomfortable and tricky situations[6], making it more likely that the situation will be safe for all parties. If a supervisor does not have those tools, a situation can escalate when an employee becomes violent or otherwise difficult to deal with, which endangers both employee and supervisor.

Not Recognizing the Signs of Drug or Alcohol Abuse Can Result in Accidents

If an employee is good at hiding their drug or alcohol addiction, they may appear sound of mind to anyone who does not have a trained eye. Signs can vary from slight mood swings, changes in work attendance and unusual behavior when not directly in the presence of a supervisor, and other smaller, less visible signs[7].

A missed alcohol or drug impairment can not only cause accidents that result in injury or equipment damage but a death of the employee and others involved in an accident. Not only is this an avoidable tragedy, but a costly one for all involved.

An effortless way to ensure that your employees and supervisors are as safe as possible is to ensure that the necessary two to three hours of training are completed by all managers in charge of employees.

References:

[1] https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/drug-alcohol-testing/what-are-my-employee-and-supervisor-training-responsibilities
[2] https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/handling-employee-alcohol-drug-use-30349.html
[3] https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/testing-employees-29912.html [4] https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/ODAPC_Employer_Guidelines_%20June_1_2015_A.pdf
[5] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/how-to-guides/pages/documentingreasonablesuspicion.aspx
[6] https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/drug-alcohol-testing/what-are-my-employee-and-supervisor-training-responsibilities
[7] http://www.addictionrecov.org/proctorinfo.aspx?SubCategoryID=85



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