Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Well, Thank Goodness for Consensus

I couldn't help but chuckle at the lead paragraph in today's Daily Labor Report ($) article concerning proposed alcohol and drug testing rules in mines:
Although there is an apparent consensus that drug and alcohol use has no place in mines, many miners dislike the proposed rule recently issued by the Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration, which would set standards for drug and alcohol testing of mine employees.
Actually, the discussion over the proposed rule, Alcohol and Drug-Free Mines: Policy, Prohibitions, Testing, Training, and Assistance, which was proposed on September 8th, deserves more than my tongue-in-cheek response accords it.

Instead it illustrates that even on things that are clearly just good common sense, any policy adopted to achieve such a goal is quite likely to be more involved and nuanced than it might seem on first blush. As one of my former law partners used to say, "every pancake, no matter how thin, has two sides."

With a new administration coming, regardless of Tuesday's election results, there are going to be a number of opportunities to review many issues related to the workplace. Although it will no doubt soon begin to sound like a broken record, I can not overstate enough the importance that these are both important and complex questions, and solutions should be thoughtful and incremental. Congress should remember, and be reminded constantly by their constituents, of one of the principles of employment laws -- whatever is passed will never be rolled back.


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