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Substance Abuse Testing Company Owes Duty of Care to Employees Being Tested
Description Wyoming high court held that a company performing substance abuse tests, such as taking urine specimens, has a duty of reasonable care to the employees being tested. Careless handling and interpretation of test results can result in employees being fired, as happened in this instance.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words Drug Testing; Duty of Care
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Solvay hired Afton to collect urine specimens as part of a substance abuse testing program of company employees. Duncan provided a specimen. It was left unguarded for a time, was not labeled until later, and the temperature at which the specimen was kept was not noted. Afton reported to Solvay that Duncan had a urine alcohol content of 0.32 (a very high level). Duncan was fired. He sued Afton for failure to use reasonable care in its procedures. The district court dismissed the suit; Duncan appealed.
Decision Reversed. "A company collecting urine specimens as part of an employer's substance abuse testing program owes a duty of care to the employee who submits a specimen." "Afton could foresee that improper collecting and handling of the specimen could contribute to a false positive result and could injure an employee." False positive readings are not uncommon and the number reported in Duncan's case should have made Afton suspicious; the company should act in a "scientifically reasonable manner."
Citation Duncan v. Afton, Inc., - P.2d - (1999 WL 1073434, Sup. Ct., Wyo.)

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