Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DOT Training and Reasonable Suspicion Tip 3: “It’s medicine!”

Here is another tip for you to consider in your DOT Training for Supervisors.
This is a claim that requires you to be very careful about your approach. It might be medicine; it might be alcohol. Deal with your employee with the idea in mind that she might be telling you the truth. A false accusation can carry negative consequences for years. If an innocent employee believes you’ve impugned her integrity, your relationship may be permanently harmed.

This does NOT mean you should back off. Politely ask your employee for specifics about her medication—what it is, when it was prescribed, its side effects, and whether she can produce the medicine bottle or a prescription. You can also ask for contact information for the physician who prescribed the medicine. Carefully document each response.

Remember, if it smells like alcohol, then you can support your documentation even if you turn out to be wrong. What the employee claims that you smell is not part of the “screening out” process. This is about your observations, not someone else’s assertions.

Mixing alcohol with some medications can exaggerate their side effects. It’s possible that your employee is telling you the truth about her medication, but has also consumed alcohol. Or your employee may be abusing her medication by taking it in greater amounts than prescribed.

Don’t pressure yourself to figure everything out on the spot. Let your observations guide whether there’s reasonable suspicion and allow testing to make the final judgment.