August 3, 2016
Since there has been increased employer activity lately in response to drug and alcohol policies, including some terminations, I would like to review some key points about this topic. All employees should review and become familiar with your employer’s Drug and Alcohol Policy. Employees are responsible for being free of alcohol and illegal/prohibited drugs and/or the metabolites of these drugs while at work/on duty.
To ensure safety and compliance, the Alaska Airlines (ASA) Policy has a prohibition of alcohol use within eight hours of reporting to work/duty. Southwest Airlines (SWA) calls for four hours, except for pilots and flight attendants. Use your judgement as in some cases four hours is certainly not enough time, and eight hours can be pushing the envelope depending on amount you drink. If you work third shift then go home and drink, you can lose track of time and fall under the "at risk" category. This is where most of the issues have arisen.
The DOT and FAA require that any covered employee who receives a DOT breath alcohol test result of .040 or greater be immediately removed from performing safety-sensitive duties. SWA employees with an alcohol concentration result of 0.042 or greater will be terminated. If an employee with an alcohol concentration result of 0.040 or greater is a Part 61, 63, 65, or 67 Airman Certificate holder, SWA is required to report such results to the FAA. Under ASA Policy an employee who receives a DOT or non-DOT alcohol test result of .040 or greater on a confirmation test will be discharged in accordance with applicable laws.
There are several types of testing with drugs and alcohol: pre- employment, random, reasonable suspicion, post- accident, and return to duty. Employees MUST submit to the test if requested to do so. Failure to submit to the test or comply with all testing procedures and instructions will be deemed a refusal to submit to testing and will result in termination. Employees represented by a Union may have Union representation, but failure to secure such representation in a timely manner will not delay the testing process.
We also have to be careful with marijuana as in some states the use is legal; however, in our safety-sensitive job, it is never acceptable to consume. Per 49 CFR, part 40 it does not authorize "medical marijuana" under a state law to be valid medical explanation for a transportation employee’s positive drug test result.
To be proactive, if you need assistance, both airlines have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that are available. SWA has a Drug and Alcohol Team available 24-hours a day and may be reached at 214-536-9225. You can also call ClearSkies at 1-800-742-8911 or go to www.liveandworkwell.com (access code: swa7370). ASA employees can contact Lifeworks at (888) 456-1324 or go to www.lifeworks.com (user id: alaska, password: spirit). Your job will not be in jeopardy by using this service. You will not be fired for using this service.
Whether employees are on or off duty, if they are in uniform and consume alcohol they are in violation of policy and may be subject to discipline or termination. Use good judgment and avoid getting yourself into a situation that might subject you to disciplinary action. Be safe, be aware of the rules of the road, and make sure you are in compliance.
David A. Brooks
National Safety & Standards Director