Common Drug Policy Errors

Your first defense in creating a drug-free workplace begins with a well-written company policy.  Recently Mark A. de Bernardo, Esq., Partner in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis LLP and Executive Director of the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace, presented a Quest Diagnostics webinar: “Employee Substance Abuse Prevention Programs:  How to Avoid the 12 Most Common-and Costly-Mistakes.”  Mr. de Bernardo discusses the prevailing areas where errors occur within company substance abuse policies and offers solutions to correct these problems.

The common theme throughout the webinar is that policies are often written using vague and subjective terminology causing gray areas subject to interpretation.  An example of this is using terminology such as “post-accident” testing vs. “post-incident” testing and generalizing policy violation by using “misuse and/or abuse.”  Policies should be distinct, clarifying violation as use, possession, sale, purchase, distribution, conveyance, etc .  Mr. de Bernardo stipulates that these policies need to be written clearly, using correct terminology and precisely stipulating the consequences of violating the policy.   In addition, he stresses the importance of taking immediate, adverse action for a first time offense and the negative effects if an employer offers a first-time warning.  He also focuses on the importance of communication of these policies to employees and the need for making sure the information was conveyed. In addition, he recommends instituting an acknowledgement form that each employee must sign stating that not only have they received the policies, but they also read, understood and will comply with such policies.


As quoted by Mr. de Bernardo, “14.6 million employees in the United States are current illicit drug users.”  With such high numbers, we cannot afford to be lax in our policies.  Mr. de Bernardo’s webinar reiterates the importance of justification, prohibitions and penalties clearly being defined within the company policy.  If your ultimate goal is to ensure the safety, health and well being of your employees while limiting your company’s liability, Mr. de Bernardo’s webinar is a highly informative resource.

To view the webinar, please visit

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