Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Random drug test administered pursuant to a settlement agreement of a disciplinary action


Random drug test administered pursuant to a settlement agreement of a disciplinary action
Gluck v Suffolk County Community College, Supreme Court, Ia Part 26 [Not selected for publication in the Official Reports]

An individual was terminated from his position of laborer by the Suffolk Community College [SCCC]. He sued, seeking reinstatement with full back pay and benefits.

The court noted that in connection with an unrelated matter, and the individual and SCCC entered into a stipulation in lieu of a disciplinary proceeding that provided as follows:

The employee will receive a (12) twelve month period of probation beginning upon the full execution of this agreement. During the period of probation the employee shall be subject to random drug and alcohol testing, wherein should the employee test positive on a drug/alcohol test, he shall be immediately terminated without the benefit of a hearing or any other protection afforded under Civil Service law or the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The settlement agreement also provided that the employee's probationary period would begin upon his return to work in a full duty capacity. The employee reported for work on April 3, and was asked to submit to a drug and alcohol test. According to the ruling, the employee's urine specimen registered a temperature that was "out of range." He was asked to provide another urine sample for testing.

The employee was told that his refusal to take the test would be considered an automatic positive test result, which in turn would bring about his immediate suspension without pay. He agreed to provide a second urine specimen. However, he did not allow his supervisor to witness his providing the sample. The second sample was also "out of range" and the employee left the laboratory.

SCCC argued that the employee's failure to provide a witness-validated urine sample constituted a failure to cooperate with the sample collection procedure. This, SCCC said, was tantamount to the employee's refusal to submit to the test and the employee had been warned that his refusal to submit to the test would be deemed a positive test and would result in his immediate suspension without pay. Ultimately SCCC terminated the employee.

The employee sued, contending that he willingly gave both samples and was told by laboratory personnel that he was free to leave. He claimed that he had "no qualms about giving the samples because he had no history of drug use and does not abuse alcohol" and thus SCCC's decision to terminate him was arbitrary and capricious.

The court decided that “the record here, which must include the federal guidelines that apply to drug testing in the workplace,” demonstrates that SCCC's decision to terminate the employee was neither arbitrary nor capricious.

The employee, said the court, had agreed, as part of the disciplinary settlement stipulation he signed in February, to submit to random drug and alcohol testing. What happened on April 3, under the guidelines utilized by the laboratory facility conducting the test, was tantamount to a refusal to submit to such testing. As the employee was told what would happen under the circumstances, his conduct violated the terms of the stipulation.

The court's conclusion: there was a rational basis for SCCC's terminating the employee and his petition had to be dismissed.

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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