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Should a DER Take Reasonable Suspicion Training?

By Andrew David Easler, Esq.

A DER, or Designated Employer Representative, plays a key role in many drug and alcohol-free workplace program functions[1]. When a drug test is performed, an employee needs to be removed from their duties. When further information is needed about the company’s alcohol and drug policies, the DER is responsible and is the best source of accurate information regarding drug and alcohol testing.

WHAT ROLE DOES THE DER PLAY?

A DER is:

  • A company employee (a contractor cannot be a DER).
  • Someone who is trained specifically to be a DER.
  • Someone readily available to make crucial policy determinations for employees.

The main purpose of a DER is to be the authority on federal, state, and company drug and alcohol-free workplace policies. The DER is in charge of ensuring the safe and timely removal of any employee found in violation of company policy.

A company may have multiple DERs to ensure availability during shifts or in an emergency[2]. The owner or employer of a small business may also act personally as a DER[3] under §40.3, but the law does not permit one DER to be under contract for multiple companies.

A DER is responsible for the operation of the company drug and alcohol-free workplace policy, meaning she is responsible for all of the following and more:

  • Educating employees on the policy;
  • Ordering drug and alcohol tests;
  • Ensuring program compliance with applicable regulations;
  • Removing employees from safety-sensitive functions;
  • Making certain refusal to test determinations;
  • Offering advice to supervisors regarding suspicion determinations;
  • Maintaining all documentation[4];
  • Reviewing results from Medical Review Officers (MROs) and Breath Alcohol Technicians (BATs)[5]; and
  • Ensuring employee and supervisor training and records are up-to-date and comprehensive.

SHOULD A DER TAKE REASONABLE SUSPICION TRAINING?

Yes, anyone designated as a DER should not only take reasonable suspicion training but should be properly trained in best practices when it comes to drug and alcohol-free workplace policies. Since a DER is essentially the company drug and alcohol-free workplace guru, it is imperative that the DER not only learn the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol use but that the DER become the company expert in reasonable suspicion determinations.

To register for the Reasonable Suspicion Training course, visit the course page. or for more information on the training, a DER must receive and register for a course and visit our DER training page.

References:

[1] https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/ODAPC_Employer_Guidelines_%20June_1_2015_A.pdf

[2] https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/ODAPC_Employer_Guidelines_%20June_1_2015_A.pdf

[3] https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/part40QA/40_3

[4] https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/aam/drug_alcohol/media/12-3175_Brochure.pdf

[5] https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/ODAPC_Employer_Guidelines_%20June_1_2015_A.pdf [6] https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/part40

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