FAA filing lawsuit for violating drug testing regulations

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a civil penalty of $1,025,000 against San Antonio Aerospace LP for violating the Department of Transportation’s Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing programs, according to AMT.

The FAA alleges San Antonio Aerospace failed to conduct required pre-employment drug tests and receive verified negative drug test results before hiring 90 people to perform safety-sensitive functions, a violation of federal safety regulations. Twenty-five of the employees performed safety-sensitive work before the results of their drug tests were known. The violations occurred between March 24, 2007 and May 8, 2008. “Required pre-employment drug testing is an important part of the government’s effort to ensure safety at all levels of transportation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We take these violations very seriously.”

Another 22 workers received the required pre-employment drug test, but the company did not receive verified negative results until after those workers were hired. Two of those workers performed safety-sensitive tasks before the company received verified negative results. Another six workers took their pre-employment drug tests on the day they were hired. “Safety is compromised when our regulations are skirted or ignored,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “The traveling public has to be confident that the people who perform work on their planes are complying with those regulations.”

It’s a tricky situation as one of the problems many organizations face with drug screening is the length of time it takes to process such tests. Often these businesses cannot simply wait – they will be wasting time and losing money. They take a risk and assume the results will be ok – and more often that not these risks pay off. However, what if they don’t? What if they employ someone before the results come back and they put others safety at risk through being intoxicated on the job? If San Antonio Aerospace lose this case, then the risk will certainly not have been worth it, and many other businesses will have to re-evaluate their hiring processes.

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