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TB EDITORIAL: Drug testing can cut liability risks

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AKRON (April 15, 2014) — The decision on whether to do drug testing of prospective and current employees became more complicated with the decision by Colorado and Washington voters to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

It could cause a hornet’s nest of problems for law enforcement and businesses alike.

One of the sticky issues is that, unlike alcohol, the active ingredient in marijuana—tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—can remain detectable in the human body for weeks after use. Alcohol, on the other hand, moves quickly out of a person’s system.

So a tire dealership employee in Colorado or Washington hypothetically can use marijuana legally in their home over the weekend, come into work Monday morning, undergo a random drug test and have THC still detectable in their bloodstream. Are they guilty of breaking the company’s drug policy or not?

While there always will be thorny issues like this one for tire dealers to work through, they should not stop dealers from doing what’s best for the business.

And the bottom line for any auto and tire service business is: Keep customers safe and the company free from liability should an accident occur.

Having a program in place that ensures employees are drug free puts a dealership in a much stronger position should it be in the uncomfortable position of having to defend itself in a court of law.

Kevin Rohlwing, senior vice president of training for the Tire Industry Association, thinks that in today’s litigious society, at the very least, tire dealers should consider pre-employment screening to avoid bringing questionable hires into the business.

This includes checking a prospective employee’s criminal record, credit history, driving record and drug use.

While some dealers may want to avoid pre-employment screening, including drug testing, for fear of scaring off qualified candidates or losing employees, they might want to think otherwise.

Yes, checking employees’ backgrounds likely will scare off some prospective candidates. The business also may lose a valued employee.

But that’s a small price to pay if it reduces the dealership’s liability risks and helps keep customers safe.

This editorial appears in the April 14 print edition of Tire Business. Have an opinion on this subject? Send an email to tirebusiness@crain.com.

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