Worker Privacy Does Not Trump Workplace Safety

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One of the obligations that HR professionals have is to protect the rights of workers, whether they know what those rights are or not.  However, what happens when rights & obligations collide in conflict?

In this case, the worker’s right to a safe workplace and the employer’s obligation to provide  a safe workplace.  See the OSHA General Duty Clause 5 for specifics.  Then there is the state granted right to medicinal marijuana. The problem with medicinal marijuana is that there is no known or approved test for level of intoxication.

The Maine Department of Labor proposed a bill, LD 1669, An Act To Standardize and Simplify the Process for Employers To Provide a Drug-free Workplace, to modernize drug testing programs in the state of Maine. A Drug-Free Workplace is important from two aspects. The first being workplace safety. The second is qualifying for federal contracts. The Maine Medical Marijuana law sidesteps these two important concerns. LD 1669 addresses this deliberate lapse.

As published in the Portland Press Herald article; Maine Voices: Legislative committee misses the point one drug-testing measure.

This past week, the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee voted on L.D. 1669, approving the “ought not to pass” report 7-6. Those who voted against these common-sense measures cited concerns over workers’ privacy rights.

The purpose of LD 1669 is to create a statewide model policy for workplace drug testing.  Model policies are not new, in fact, they are conveniently common from the US  Department of Labor. Searching ‘Model  Notices’ on the DOL website yields 190,000 hits.

The Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee got this one dead wrong. Hopefully dead is only a metaphor, not a workplace fatality.  We, the good citizens of the Great State of Maine, should not have to be exposed to GM style recall fatalities before we get this right.

As our Declaration of Independence states, We The People…are endowed … with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  The order is important, Right to Life trumps Liberty and Happiness

 

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2 thoughts on “Worker Privacy Does Not Trump Workplace Safety

  1. LD 1669 has not reported out of committee yet. According to the committee status link, it has a divided report. Unofficially, a slim majority voted ought not to pass, and the bill has a minority report that will be debated on the House and Senate floors. When the bill reports out of committee, which should happen within the next couple days, it will appear on the Senate Calendar. It is not too late to write to your state senator and representative to urge them to vote for the minority report!

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