With the continued increase of the opioid epidemic, marijuana legalization across the states, and changes to regulation when it comes to DOT testing, managers must refresh themselves on the importance and requirements of reasonable suspicion so that they can keep the workplace safe. Although it’s 100% legal to drug test for employment, many supervisors fear being sued or even having a labor grievance action taken against them due to their decision to do a reasonable suspicion test.

The good news is that you can minimize these fears, especially if a supervisor remembers that requiring a staff member to do a reasonable suspicion test is not an attempt to diagnose substance addiction or abuse. Besides, it’s also not an accusation of alcohol or drug use. Instead, it’s a method that can help to rule out a possible cause or even explanation for a staff member’s appearance or behavior that is cause for concern. This page discusses why reasonable suspicion for supervisors is important.

Understanding reasonable suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is considered to be a set of situations that can give you a good reason to do a fitness for duty assessment of any member of staff based on objective observations. You should remember that suspicion is usually based on some observations of an individual employee. This means that it is not a gut feeling or generalized belief about a category or group of employees based on characteristics, such as ethnicity, dress, occupation, or age. A reasonable suspicion should be more than a hunch, meaning it should be a rational conclusion that you draw from objective observations of a person over a certain period. 

Most people tend to confuse probable cause and reasonable suspicion, but there is a difference between these two. Note that probable cause usually implies that you have evidence to support a certain probable conclusion, such as alcohol use or drug use. On the other hand, reasonable suspicion often leaves room for an action that can help you to eliminate or rule out a specific cause for the observed behavior. In other words, you can use a reasonable suspicion test to determine that drugs or alcohol may not be the cause of the observed appearance or behavior just like it is there to prove that drugs or alcohol is the causative agent. 

The role of a supervisor is to identify the specific observations of an employee’s appearance or behavior that warrants a reasonable suspicion test. They can also confront the staff member concerning the requirement to do a reasonable suspicion test. Also, a supervisor can fully explain the outcome of the staff’s refusal to comply.

As mentioned earlier, you can use reasonable suspicion to determine that drugs or alcohol may not have caused the observed appearance or behavior. Drug testing refers to a technique used to determine whether or not the employee utilized prohibited drugs, regardless of what amount or when. 

The purpose of reasonable suspicion training at https://worktraining.com/course/dot-reasonable-suspicion/ is to protect the public and offer workplace safety by making sure that the removal of a staff member from safety-sensitive tasks when their appearance and behavior show that there is a possible alcohol misuse or illegal drug use. Basically, this training gives your company ears and eyes throughout the workforce, and supervisors can act as the key defense for workplace safety. 

The responsibility of the supervisor is to identify the changes in the appearance or behavior of employees, and not to a certain set of signs related to each drug or drug class. You should also note that deciding that it’s necessary to do a reasonable suspicion test can involve the specific interaction of the supervisor with the staff member and should be done based on current information. If there are no current signs, a reasonable suspicion drug test can usually be warranted on a past incident. 

DOT training

You can send your supervisor to a DOT training course so that they can learn what the regulations state about how you can deal with reasonable suspicion. Besides, you can also learn the reasonable suspicion process and documentation needed. Even better, the trainers can offer you some tips to ensure that you remain in compliance with these rules. You can find many trainers that provide online training courses or a wide range of in-person for specific weaknesses or needs of your company.

One of the valuable resources is the driver training and fleet management training that makes sure that you have compliant safety practices and a healthy fleet. The good thing is that most trainers usually design training to the specific needs of your company. 

In most cases, some employers who have a good drug testing policy to help to keep a drug-free workplace often have reasonable suspicion testing also called probable-cause testing. As mentioned above, you need to base your reasonable suspicion testing on individual suspicion of a specific staff member. And, you must document objective facts that can demonstrate to a person that the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which is in violation of your company’s policy. 

A supervisor, manager, or an HR professional needs to be trained in reasonable suspicion. This is crucial so that they can identify the signs of drugs or alcohol abuse in the workplace. When you suspect a staff member of being under the influence, you need to observe them right away. It’s a good idea to have more than two people, which can be supervisors or managers observing the concerned employee.

There are various signs that you can observe. These include physical signs, such as dilated or bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, tremors or shakes, unsteady walk or uncoordinated movements, fidgeting or inability to sit still, unexplained shivering or sweating, unusual breath or body odor, sleeping at work, and deterioration in appearance. 

Some of the behavioral signs include attendance problems like excessive absenteeism or pattern of absences. An employee can also show a decline in productivity, acting withdrawn from others, and money problems or stealing cash or borrowing. 

The psychological signs can include unexplained changes in attitude or personality, unexplained fear, sudden mood changes or angry outbursts, and inability to concentrate or focus.