Philadelphia Employment Law News

Limerick Nuclear Plant Operator Fails Drug Test, Loses License

It's possible that random drug tests at work are more palatable now that professional athletes are consistently tested. Maybe you feel a little better about being checked after finding out that Lance Armstrong has been hounded for years and years after his multiple tour wins.

Like Armstrong, who was formally charged after all those years, an operator in the reactor control room of the nuclear plant in Limerick, Roger Devlin, was found to be under the influence of alcohol after a random drug test in July, according to the local Journal Record News Service. The test, given by Exelon Nuclear, was followed by a review of Devlin's activities during the day, which found no errors. Still, he was promptly removed from his duties, and a request was sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for his operator's license to be revoked.

So can your boss make you take an on-the-job drug test as well?

Whether or not an employer can test you for drug use depends on whether you have the job or not. Before you're hired, your employer is allowed to request you take a drug test. These tests must be the same across all applicants.

If an employer is picking and choosing which job candidates get a drug test, it runs the risk of seeming discriminatory and could be grounds for a lawsuit. However, as long as there are policies in place about how the testing will be done, which drugs will be tested for, and what to do if someone tests positive, the employer is allowed to require the tests.

But once you are hired, things change. You can't be randomly drug tested unless the employer had a legitimate reason to do so. These reasons include employees being involved in workplace accidents, the job requiring significant safety standards, or reasonable suspicion that the employee is abusing drugs.

Also, if you are a federal employee, the Drug-Free Workplace Act requires that all federal employees and federal contractors be subject to a drug-testing policy. So if you are looking for a job at the post office, know that you will be tested before being hired, and likely tested again once employed.

With regards to Roger Devlin's drug test, running a nuclear control room is a huge responsibility that requires the utmost safety. That's why Exelon likely had the right to drug test him. Devlin has not challenged the findings, the Journal Register News Service reports.

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