Arbitrator's Rejection of No Second Chance Drug Policy Tossed
by Michael Fox
The 3rd Circuit refuses to agree with an arbitrator's rejection of Citgo's zero tolerance drug policy which provided no second chance for employees who tested positive for illegal drugs. (Employees who voluntarily admitted a drug problem and asked for help were exempted from the zero tolerance rule.) Although noting the powers of a court to reverse an arbitrator are limited, this is one of those occasions when it can, and does. Citgo Asphalt Refining Co. v. Local No. 2-991 (3rd Cir. 10/14/04) [pdf].
Reversing both the arbitrator and the district court which had affirmed his decision, the Court found the arbitrator's finding that the zero tolerance policy was unreasonable was not supported by the record. The money quote expressing their view:
We do not understand how the arbitrator could conclude on this record that it is unreasonable for CITGO to adopt a policy that attempts to pressure impaired employees into stepping forward and seeking help before their impairment results in a catastrophe.
My guess is that those residing in the shadows of the refinery might well share their view on the importance of preventing
a catastrophic occurrence.