May 17, 2007
May 17, 2007
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — Some employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory have resigned or been fired under the lab’s new random drug testing policy, but the lab said it hasn’t been very many.
Fewer than 10 people have left Los Alamos lab since the tougher drug testing was implemented March 5, a lab spokesman, Kevin Roark, said Thursday. Some resigned and some were terminated, he said.
Lab officials have called in about 200 employees, most of them with security clearances, since the random tests began.
The lab announced earlier this year that under the expanded drug policy, tests will be conducted for at least 20 percent of the work force. The policy said workers could be fired for a positive drug test, and those who fail to appear will be treated as if the test were positive.
The policy states that a positive drug test will result in disciplinary action — up to and including termination.
Employees who test positive or who refuse to be tested can resign to avoid termination, Roark said.
He said he’d heard some “outrageous” numbers in the past few weeks about the number of people who’d left the lab under the new policy.
“It’s fewer than 10,” he said. “We have no reason to make it what it’s not.”
More than 300 lab employees submitted comments on the policy to the lab before it was implemented, many of them concerning the possibility of “false positive” results.
Doris Heim, the lab’s associate director for business, said this spring that safeguards are in place to address those types of results. If, for example, an employee provided documentation about a prescription medication, the drug test will be reported as negative, she said.
Lab Director Michael Anastasio said the lab updated its substance abuse policy as part of its efforts to tighten security.
“The new substance abuse policy reflects today’s environment and the need to take greater precautions to ensure a work place that is safe, secure and demonstrates that we are worthy of our nation’s trust,” Anastasio told an all-employee meeting in December.
The policy includes pre-employment screening of all regular employees, including contractors; random testing of lab workers; testing after serious incidents or accidents; and testing in response to reasonable suspicion of illegal drug use.