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Douglas County Personnel Rules

Douglas County Personnel Rule #23

DRUG AND ALCOHOL

23.1        Drug and Alcohol Policy.

23.1.1    Douglas County has a strong commitment to its employees to provide a safe work environment and to promote high standards of employee health.  The County also has a strong commitment to provide high quality public service.  Consistent with the spirit and intent of these commitments, the County has established this policy on drug and alcohol use.  The County's goal is to establish and maintain a work environment that is free from the effects of alcohol and drug abuse.

The County expects employees to report to work in a condition that is conducive to performing their duties in a safe, effective and efficient manner.  An employee's off-the-job as well as on-the-job involvement with drugs and alcohol can have a significant impact on the workplace and can present a substantial risk to the employee who is using alcohol and drugs, to coworkers and others.

This rule is intended to comply with and supplement the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.  As a condition of employment, County employees shall abide by requirements of this rule.

23.1.2    Possession, transfer, use or being under the influence of any alcoholic liquor while on County property, on County time or in other circumstances which adversely affect County operations or safety of County employees or others is prohibited.  The conduct prohibited by this rule includes consumption of any intoxicating liquor within four hours of reporting to work or during breaks or lunch period.  If use of alcoholic liquor or an alcohol hangover adversely affects an employee's physical or mental faculties while at work to any perceptible degree or the employee's blood alcohol content exceeds .02 percent, the employee will be deemed "under the influence" for purposes of this rule.

23.1.3    Possession, distribution, dispensing, sale, attempted sale, use, manufacture or being under the influence of any narcotic, hallucinogen, stimulant, sedative, drug or other controlled substance while on County property, on County time or in other circumstances which adversely affect County operations or safety of County employees or others is prohibited.  The conduct prohibited by this rule includes consumption of any such substance prior to reporting to work or during breaks or lunch period.  If use of such substances or withdrawal symptoms adversely affects an employee's physical or mental faculties while at work to any perceptible degree, or the employee tests "positive" for any such substances by screening and confirmation tests, the employee will be deemed "under the influence" for purposes of this rule.  As used in this rule, "controlled substance" includes, but is not limited to, any controlled substance listed in Schedules I through V of the Federal Controlled Substance Act.

With the exception of medical marijuana, nothing in this rule is intended to prohibit the use of a drug taken under supervision by a licensed health care professional, where its use does not present a safety hazard or otherwise adversely impact an employee's performance or county operations (see Personnel Rule 23.1.19).

The use of marijuana, which is a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law, is expressly prohibited under this policy, even if its medical use is authorized under state law.

23.1.4    If there is reasonable cause to suspect that an employee is under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol during work hours, the County may require the employee to undergo testing for controlled substances or alcoholic liquor including, but not limited to, job impairment field tests, psychoneurological examinations, breathalyzer and laboratory tests of saliva, blood and urine.  As used in this rule, unless the context indicates otherwise, the terms "test" and "testing" shall be construed to mean job impairment field tests, laboratory tests, breathalyzer tests, psychoneurological examinations and other tests for determining whether an employee is under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.  No testing shall be performed under this rule without the approval of the Human Resources Director or the Human Resources Director's designee.  Failure to undergo testing upon request of the Human Resources Director is grounds for discipline.

23.1.5    An employee whose initial laboratory screening test for controlled substances yields a positive result shall be given a second test using a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GS/MS) test.  The second test shall use a portion of the same test sample withdrawn from the employee for use in the initial screening test.  If the second test confirms the initial positive test result, the employee shall be notified of the results in writing by the appropriate department head or designee.  The letter of notification shall state the particular substance identified by the laboratory tests.

23.1.6    When reasonable cause exists to believe an employee has possession of alcohol or controlled substance on County property, or has otherwise violated provisions of this rule regarding possession, sale or use of controlled substances or alcoholic liquor, the County may search the employee's possessions located on County property, including but not limited to, clothes, locker, lunchbox, toolbox, desk, car.

23.1.7    If the Human Resources Director finds that tests or other evidence support a conclusion that an employee has violated section 23.1.2 or section 23.1.3 of these rules, the appropriate department head or designee shall be notified of the results.

23.1.8    "Reasonable cause" as used in sections 23.1.4 and 23.1.6 means an articulable belief based on specific facts and reasonable inferences drawn from those facts that an employee is more likely than not under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol.  Circumstances which can constitute a basis for determining "reasonable cause" may include, but are not limited to:

23.1.8.1  a pattern of abnormal or erratic behavior;

23.1.8.2  information provided by a reliable and credible source;

23.1.8.3  a work-related accident;

23.1.8.4  direct observation of drug or alcohol use;

23.1.8.5  presence of the physical symptoms of drug or alcohol use (i.e., glassy or bloodshot eyes, alcohol odor on breath, slurred speech, poor coordination and/or reflexes);

23.1.8.6  unexplained significant deterioration in individual job performance;

23.1.8.7  unexplained or suspicious absenteeism or tardiness;

23.1.8.8  employee admissions regarding drug or alcohol use; and

23.1.8.9  unexplained absences from normal work areas where there is reason to suspect drug or alcohol related activity.

23.1.9    Supervisors are required to detail in writing the specific facts, symptoms or observations which form the basis for their determination that reasonable cause exists to warrant alcohol or controlled substance testing of an employee or a search.  This documentation shall be forwarded to the appropriate department head and the Human Resources Director.

The County shall develop a program of training to assist supervisory personnel in identifying drug and alcohol use among employees.  Such training will be directed towards helping supervisors recognize the conduct and behavior that give rise to a reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol use.

23.1.10  Before a test is administered or a search is conducted, employees and job applicants will be asked to sign a consent form authorizing the test or search and permitting release of test or search results to those County officials with a need to know.  The consent form shall provide space for employees and applicants to acknowledge that they have been notified of the County's drug and alcohol policy and to indicate current or recent use of prescription or over-the-counter medication.

The consent form shall also set forth the following information:

23.1.10.1              the procedure for confirming an initial positive laboratory test result;

23.1.10.2              the consequences of adverse test results;

23.1.10.3              the right to explain a test result and the appeal procedures available; and

23.1.10.4              the consequences of refusing to undergo a test.

23.1.11   An employee who refuses to consent to a test or a search when there is reasonable cause to suspect that the employee has violated sections 23.1.2 or 23.1.3 of this rule is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.  The reasons for the refusal shall be considered in determining the appropriate disciplinary action.

23.1.12  If the department head determines that an employee has violated sections 23.1.2 or 23.1.3 of this rule, the employee is subject to disciplinary action under Rule 12 up to and including termination.  The employee shall be notified of the Human Resources Director's conclusion under section 23.1.7 in writing by the appropriate department head or designee.  The letter of notification shall state the reasons for the conclusion of the Human Resources Director and identify the particular substance found.  Factors to be considered in determining the appropriate disciplinary response include the employee's work history, length of employment, the adverse effects that use of alcohol or controlled substances have on job performance, the existence of past disciplinary actions and the policy stated in Rule 23.1.1.

23.1.13  Employees shall report any criminal conviction, or entry into Adrug court@ or similar diversion program, for drug-related activity within five days. Failure to report as required will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

23.1.14  The County recognizes that alcohol and drug use may be a sign of chemical dependency and that employees with alcohol and drug problems can be successfully treated.  The County is willing to help such employees identify drug or alcohol-related problems and obtain appropriate treatment.

An employee who believes that he or she has a problem involving the use of alcohol or drugs should ask a supervisor or the Human Resources Department for assistance.

The County will work with an employee to identify all benefits and benefit programs that may be available to help deal with the problem.  Any continuing rehabilitation treatment will be a shared financial responsibility of the employee and the County, through its Employee Assistance Service and its existing benefits package.

Although the County recognizes that alcohol and drug abuse can be successfully treated and is willing to work with employees who may suffer from such problems, it is the employee's responsibility to seek assistance before drug or alcohol problems lead to disciplinary action.  No disciplinary action may be taken against employees who voluntarily identify themselves as drug abusers or alcoholics obtain counseling and rehabilitation through the County's Employee Assistance Service, and thereafter refrain from violating the County's policy on drug and alcohol abuse.  Once a violation of County policy is discovered by the County without voluntary disclosure by the employee who commits the violation, the employee's willingness to seek County or outside assistance will not "excuse" the violation and generally will have no bearing on the determination of appropriate disciplinary action.

23.1.15  Last Chance Agreement: An agreement whereby an employee who would otherwise be terminated is provided an opportunity to address their performance or safety issues.  Violation of the provisions of a Last Chance Agreement shall result in immediate termination of the employee, notwithstanding the provisions of any other personnel rule.  If, in the discretion of the Human Resources Director in consultation with the Department Head, it appears to be in the best interests of the County to offer an employee who would otherwise be subject to termination an opportunity to address his or her performance or safety issues, that employee shall be advised of such and referred to the Employee Assistance Service to determine if counseling or treatment would be beneficial.

The Last Chance Agreement shall be written to inform the employee of the problems noted with their performance and to specify the performance required for the employee to achieve in order to continue to be employed by the County.  If the Employee Assistance Service recommends counseling or treatment, the Last Chance Agreement shall specify that the employee shall enroll in, and successfully complete, the treatment and aftercare, if any, recommended by the Employee Assistance Service.  A Last Chance Agreement which has a treatment or counseling component shall also contain a provision that the employee shall sign all necessary releases of information to allow any treatment or aftercare provider to inform the Director of Human Resources whether the employee is complying with treatment plans or aftercare and whether the employee is successfully completing the treatment or counseling.  The employee shall also sign all necessary releases to allow the Human Resources Director to communicate with the employee=s Department Head, County Counsel, or other persons, if necessary, to effectuate the purposes of the Last Chance Agreement.

The employee shall also sign a statement that the employee understands they have engaged in personnel rule violations which would otherwise result in termination of county employment, and the consideration for entering into and achieving the desired results as specified by the criteria of the Last Chance Agreement was continued employment under those terms.  This statement shall also contain a provision that the employee understands that, if the desired results are not achieved in the time period allotted within the Last Chance Agreement, the employee shall be terminated with no right of appeal.

23.1.16  Upon an offer of employment and prior to final appointment every applicant for County employment in a sensitive position will be asked to consent to a controlled substance screening test in accordance with section 23.1.10 of this rule.  If the initial screening test yields a positive result, the laboratory will automatically have a confirmation test conducted using the same sample.  If the initial screening test indicates that the applicant has recently used controlled substances, the applicant will be notified of the test results.  If the applicant refuses to consent to a test or if testing indicates use of controlled substances, the offer of employment will be retracted, and the applicant will be denied employment with the County.  Applicants shall be informed in writing if they are rejected on the basis of test results.

The term "sensitive position" means an employee whose duties directly affect public health or safety, including, but not limited to, duties involving:

23.1.16.1              Access to truly sensitive information;

23.1.16.2              Possession or use of firearms;

23.1.16.3              Law enforcement or corrections;

23.1.16.4              Design, manufacture, test and evaluation, or maintenance of aircraft, vessels, vehicles, trucks, heavy equipment, munitions, toxic materials, weapons, weapons systems, or potentially dangerous equipment, materials or applications (such as explosives, unstable chemicals, or medical equipment with potentially life threatening consequences);

23.1.16.5              Frequent control, operation or use of aircraft, vessels, vehicles, trucks, heavy equipment, toxic materials, munitions, weapons, weapon systems, or potentially dangerous equipment, materials or applications (such as explosives, unstable chemicals, or medical equipment with potentially life threatening consequences);

23.1.16.6             Transportation, storage or protection of toxic materials, munitions, or potentially dangerous materials (such as explosives or unstable chemicals);

23.1.16.7              Firefighting or emergency services;

23.1.16.8              Direct treatment or rehabilitation of substance abusers; or

23.1.16.9              Substantial responsibility for investigation or prosecution of drug cases.

23.1.17  All information from an employee's or applicant's drug and alcohol evaluation is confidential and only those with a need to know are to be informed of test results.  Disclosure of such information to any other person, agency, or organization is prohibited unless written authorization is obtained from the employee or applicant.

23.1.18  The County shall provide written notice of its drug and alcohol policy to all employees.  The notice shall state:

23.1.18.1              the need for a workplace free from the effects of alcohol and drug abuse;

23.1.18.2              as a condition of employment, all employees shall abide by this rule, including but not limited to, the requirement for reporting any criminal conviction for drug related activity in the workplace within five days after the conviction;

23.1.18.3              the need for alcohol and drug testing;

23.1.18.4              the circumstances under which testing may be required;

23.1.18.5              the procedure for confirming positive test result;

23.1.18.6              the consequences of a confirmed positive test result;

23.1.18.7              the consequences of refusing to undergo a drug or alcohol test;

23.1.18.8              the right to explain a positive test result and the appeal procedures available; and

23.1.18.9              the availability of drug and alcohol abuse counseling and referral services.

23.1.19  Sections 23.1.2 and 23.1.3 shall not apply to use of drugs for which employees have valid prescriptions (including drugs provided directly by a physician).  However, employees shall inform their supervisor about any prescription drugs that they are using which could adversely affect their physical or mental faculties to any perceptible degree.  If an employee's use of such prescription drugs could adversely affect County operations or safety of County employees or other persons, the County may reassign the employee using the drugs to other work or take other appropriate action to accommodate the physical or mental effects of the medication.  Failure to report use of prescription drugs covered by this rule will subject an employee to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

23.1.20  Employees shall participate in the County's ongoing drug and alcohol awareness program as directed by Board of County Commissioners.