Hair today, gone tomorrow

Maintenance Department Utility Worker Kenneth Kent completed his 30-day probationary period without mishap. He was thus shocked to receive a termination notice 2-mo later.


Maintenance Department Utility Worker Kenneth Kent completed his 30-day probationary period without mishap. He was thus shocked to receive a termination notice 2-mo later.

When Kent made a beeline to his supervisor's desk, Maintenance Supervisor Harry Lamb showed him a printout from the medical department. The report was headed, "HAIR SAMPLE ANALYSIS," and stated that Kent had tested positive for drug use.

The employee was outraged. He protested that he had not taken illegal drugs, the test results were mistaken, and were probably the result of medications he had taken for a recent illness.

Kent was retested with a positive reading the second time. The employee recruited union Shop Steward Harry Furst to argue in his behalf. Furst maintained that hair testing for drugs was unreliable and thus insufficient grounds for dismissal. He also contended that Kent had been fired due to a run-in he'd had with his supervisor.

Lamb conceded that Kent had complained about a job assignment a few days ago and had been told off "in no uncertain terms," but that this had no bearing on his termination. Furst threatened to fight the dismissal.

Question: Do you think Furst will win if he follows through on his threat?

Medcalf's verdict: "The termination stands," Plant Engineer Ralph Medcalf ruled. "Several court rulings indicate that hair testing for drugs is now considered an effective and acceptable procedure. Kent acted in violation of stated company policy declaring drug use a dischargeable offense."

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