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Group 1 - Corporate Drug Testing (Topic #2)


Discussion Topic: "Corporate drug testing of both current and prospective employees is ethical." Discuss your position on this ethical issue with your group, and use some of the following questions to help direct the discussion.
  1. What are your position(s) and supporting arguments on this issue? 
  2. How do you evaluate, weigh and balance these arguments in establishing your positions? 
  3. What is the group's "general" position on this issue? 
  4. How would you deal with this issue in the real business world? 
For help, email allan.jeong@doit.wisc.edu

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Posted on May 14 2000, 07:24 PM


-> I have a new Message Board that Pays!
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Hi,

I just became a member of BBS.OneCenter.com. You can visit my BBS (discussion forum) at:
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It's a BBS message board community web program, but pays me money to use it! I'm really excited about this new Web program which helps keep my visitors happy and stay in my web site. Not like other free message board, I get paid for using their BBS message board. You can also place a BBS on your site and start making money too!


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Posted on May 12 2000, 08:04 AM


Unfamiliar with me...
by Jay Gil

First of all, I am not quite familiar with drug problem because we did not have any serious debate on drug use in Korea. So far, It has not not been big issues in Korea.

However, it seems to me that drug testing in the companies is not good for both parties(employer and employee). As I mentioned in the electronic monitoring, I think that this is a matter of trust each other again.

To detect only a few people who are on drugs, there will lots of humiliating experiences for non-drug users, which could be a huge loss for the companies. Also, that is totally contrary to Utilitarianism.

Posted on May 11 2000, 02:31 PM


Cheap vs. expensive tests
by Kamen Kolev

So what do you think about this practice that we talked about last Thursday - some employers use cheap tests with high error rates, and then double-test all positives with an expesive (and reliable test).
They have calculated that this reduces their monetary costs. Isn't that mean? Isn't it like the Ford Pinto case? What about non-monetary considerations, like the shame from an unfair accusation?

Posted on May 08 2000, 04:42 PM


Not mean, if done correctly
by R.J. Safranek

This would be wrong if the test results are published. But if the results are kept confidential until after the second test then I think no harm is done. It makes good financial sense to me.

Posted on May 09 2000, 12:56 PM

Respond


Another point to think about...
by Vaishalee Patel

If drug testing were allowed on whim...what about the people who need to take if for medical purposes? Do we hassle them as well?
Do they deserve to be hassled because of a medical condition?
I do not think that they deserve this intrusion of privacy.
What do you all think about this?

Posted on May 08 2000, 03:14 PM


Yeah
by Kamen Kolev

Yes, that's a good point. I don't remember in which state marijuana was allowed if prescribed by a doctor, but I'm pretty certain there was one such a state.
Also, I know that cocaine is sometimes used as a local anesthetic, for example in suppositories.
Maybe these (and other drugs that are otherwise illegal) leave traces that might raise the suspicion that one has been using them illegaly.

Posted on May 08 2000, 04:39 PM

Respond


Beeeeep !!!
by Cassius Moura

Let us imagine that someday people find a way to detect the presence of drugs in a person just making that person pass through a door, so everyone would be tested every single day. Would that be fair ?

By the way, arenít we tested every time we take a flight? We are forced to pass through a metal detector to see if we are not carrying weapons. Is it different from being drug tested? I know it is not that simple, but is the problem just related to the process of the test or the test itself ?

What do you think ??

Posted on May 06 2000, 09:22 PM


interesting food for thought
by kimv

A less invasive test (passing through a door) is definitely fairer, in that we may have better consistency in testing and it's less time consuming for all involved. But, just cuz it's less intrusive, does that make it right?

You're right, we are "tested and monitored" (hey, both discussions in one thread when we walk onto an airplane. But, I feel alot happier about the test when security doesn't have to search my luggage on a routine trip.

Many countries - St. Lucia is one of them - do not have very sophisticated detectors and often physically examine suspicious items. This includes: opening computer bags, camera bags, toiletrie cases. The process is intrusive and time-consuming. (I know this for a fact... think about the items men/women might have in their toiletry kits and then imagine them strewn all over a security table. Medication is just the tip of the iceberg.)

What's my point? Well, in cases where safety is concerned, drug testing might be acceptable. But, testing should be considered the exception and not the rule.

Posted on May 06 2000, 10:58 PM

Respond


I would be gladly naked in front of testers!!!!!
by Daekeun Bae

I do not care about my privacy as long as the safety of others concerned. Also, I do not care about my employer's intention whether it is doing it for government contract or more profit as long as it concerns safety of others. Why does it have to matter? When I was in the Army, I was gladly naked in front of testers because I was dealing with rifles. Exactly in the same way, I expected others to be naked too. I did not feel ashame of myself from the fact that I was naked. But I have a certain standard of privacy too. I am the person who will decide if it is really an intrusion of my privacy or not. I am saying it again that I will be naked on and on if it really matters others' well being!!!!!!!!!!!!
Daekeun Bae

Posted on May 05 2000, 09:02 PM


I just got a scary visual on that Bae, thanks!
by Bob Trucker

Yea.

Posted on May 08 2000, 03:54 PM

Respond


Metaphore
by Daekeun Bae

It was just a metaphoric expression. Don't get me wrong and see things inside that expression.

Daekeun Bae

Posted on May 08 2000, 10:46 PM

Respond


We all get naked
by Kamen Kolev

Bae:

We all get naked in front of doctors or lovers or roommates, but what does that have to do with drug testing?

Nobody said that getting naked is humiliating. However, the lack of trust in one's subordinates and colleagues is what's humiliating.

Posted on May 08 2000, 04:34 PM

Respond


Untitled
by Daekeun Bae

I will tell you that there were some people to feel have a drug testing as humiliating thing. And I want you to see things in metaphoric expression. Daekeun Bae

Posted on May 08 2000, 10:43 PM

Respond


Untitled
by Bob Trucker

I have always thought that random drug testing had no place in the work environment. I was amused to see the pages that Kim gave us to look at. 3M, a company that I really respect, is telling you that using drugs is ok within a certain range. They even give you the information that tells you how to beat the test by informing you of the amount of time these drugs stay in your system. I think that they recognize that as long as drug use does not interfere with effectiveness, itís ok.
On the other hand, I do agree with others that for certain professions; drug testing is fair and right. When you hold the lives of perhaps 100ís of innocents in your hands, you must be clean and sober.
If an employer believes that an individual is under the influence at work, I feel that they do have the right to test that person. If it is a positive test, rather that fire the individual, I would like to see the employer support that employee and send them to treatment. If they are successful, invite them back to work, but make them aware that they will be monitored.

Posted on May 04 2000, 10:21 PM


So companies tell you how to get around the testing....
by Vaishalee Patel

That's a really good point, Bob. So if companies are telling how long drugs stay in your system and they are telling you what is allowable, what is the point of the test itself? The company is basically shooting itself in the foot- on one hand, they tell how to get around the testing and the other hand they are paying so much money for the test....hmmm. There's something wrong with this logic, I think.

Posted on May 05 2000, 08:42 AM

Respond


getting around the test
by kimv

Actually, I was impressed with the level of information I received from 3M. The data sheets made me more comfortable about taking the test because I knew exactly what it tested for.

A company like 3M can't really decide whether to drug test based on the costs - I believe they are federally required to perform the tests. I think you need to perform drug tests (in the context of safety precautions) in order to be eligible for government contracts.

Remember, companies aren't really trying to "stamp out drug use." They're trying to miminize liability in the event of an accident. So, letting people know the threshold levels for the test allows folks to manager their behavior in a way that can keep them on the job.

In a way, everyone's happy - the casual user keeps a decent job and 3M is protected from liablity.

Posted on May 05 2000, 03:53 PM

Respond


my stance.
by Vaishalee Patel

I really think that drug testing is not an efficient use of time or money for corporations. My reasons are many-fold:
1) I think that employees who are drug users know how to get around the testing and pass...there are so many articles posted on the web for everyone to see! Thus, what is the point??? The drug users will get around the test.
2) I believe that education is the only way that the effects are drug are going to be widely known. As it was mentioned, it has worked for smoking on kids- why shouldn't it work on adults? After all, we are supposed to be responsible individuals, right?
3) I think the amount of money that is spent on it (and I did not realize how much it was!) is ridiculous especially because the results are usually not reliable, depending on the type of test used.
4) I think that humiliation of receiving a false positive is detrimental for an employee, as mentioned today. I tried to put myself in that position, and I would be really insulted if that happened to me!
5) If a company wants to create a culture where drug use is condoned, then the company needs to take other measures to help create that atmosphere.
6) I take the universalistic approach: Why punish everyone just to catch a few bad apples?

Let me know what you all think on these points.

Posted on May 04 2000, 02:22 PM


Response
by Dave Constant

Hey Vaishalee,

Once again I find myself on the other side of the issue. I wonder if I am playing the devil's advocate and not even realizing it. Anyway, I think I am beginning to modify my stance on drug-testing, based on the industry.

If there are jobs (e.g. manufacturing)where workers do not directly impact the safety of others, I think performance evaluation would be a better way to encourage desired behaviors.

However, I think drug testing is smart and necessary for jobs where there is a direct impact on the safety of others (e.g. airlines, trucking, etc.) As a consumer, its my right to know that the pilot of the plane is sober. After all, I'm not paying hundreds of dollars to fly in a plane with a pilot that is not sober. If I'm paying that much money, and the pilot earns six figures, I deserve to know that he/she passed a drug test. Drug testing (even when flawed), is the only somewhat objective way to determine this. All other attempts are based on past experience, which are completely irrelevant.

Posted on May 05 2000, 10:40 AM

Respond


Checking for safety reasons
by Tumara Campbell

I don't know, Dave. Would a random drug test catch a pilot that did some drugs between flights to calm his nerves? How often would these drug tests be performed, every time a pilot got on a plane? Every month, every two-months? Would we then extend this sort of testing to everyone who has a direct impact on a person's saftey? Doctors, school bus drivers, construction workers, crossing guards...this is adding up to be a lot of money, to me. I think I agree with Vaishalee that education may be the best way to this.

Posted on May 05 2000, 03:50 PM

Respond


I do not care about me. I do care about my future children
by Daekeun Bae

Thank you for your comment on the safety, Tumara. Just like you, I do not leave my safety to drug addicted person. not to mention, my future wife and children. People have a liberty to take drugs? I do not think so. People do have a right to kill another? I do not think so. People have a right to pursue to have a privacy as long as it does not do harm to other people's safety. This society requires the same amount of responsibility to consider other people as you have the privacy.

Daekeun Bae
'

Posted on May 05 2000, 08:25 PM

Respond


Response
by Dave Constant

From what I was taught, drugs linger in the body for extended periods of time. This means that the test does not have to be immediately administered after drug use to be effective.

Also, I think education would not work for someone who currently has a drug problem. Just go down to your local AA or hospital if you want evidence of this.

Finally, I think the cost of a drug test is worth it when peoples lives are directly at stake (e.g. airline pilot or bus driver).

Posted on May 06 2000, 06:20 AM

Respond


Safety Reasons
by R.J. Safranek

While I am for drug testing for safety reasons, I understand Tumara's point. Where does it stop. There are so many jobs where other's safety is in one person's hands. A worker on a car production line, any construction worker, firemen and police. Speaking of the police and the firemen (Jocko's!), do we hold them to more stringent testing because they, the police, represent the law?
Random drug testing unfortunately can catch a person who used a drug on the weekend, 2 weeks ago, even though that use would have no impact on performance. This is a shame, however, I think it can provide a good incentive not to use a drug if you are in a responsible job position.

Posted on May 09 2000, 01:07 PM

Respond


response to Dave...
by Vaishalee Patel

Then are you saying that a pilot should have to be tested every time he flies a plane? If it is a safety issue, then I think this should be the case. But then if it is a safety issue, everyone should be tested EVERYDAY for drugs, because there might be a chance that between yesterday and today, I might have succumbed to the pressure of trying drugs. I just think that testing someone for drugs when you start employment is not efficient because one could start taking drugs at a later date. So what do you do then? Test them everyday? This is unreasonable, I think.
What do you all think?

Posted on May 08 2000, 03:20 PM

Respond


Performance counts most
by kimv

Having finished today's presentation, let me now tell you what I really think about corporate drug testing.....

performance is the only important measure.

At an earlier time in my life, I refused to interview with companies that used drug tests. Granted, it was easier then (1984 - 1988) cuz many companies didn't have comprehensive drug tests, and I happened to be looking for service work (typically less companies testing in that sector), but that's how strongly I felt about the inappropriateness of drug testing.

Pick your drug of choice - nicotine, alcohol, legal substances, illegal substances, caffeine, whatever - just don't let your consumption affect your work performance.

If you're overtired and your job requires concentration (think drivers, surgeons), you will also be unsafe in the workplace.

New technologies are allowing companies to afford virtual simulations that test performance, not for traces of a chemical in your fluids. I hope that someday performance tests will supplant all drug tests as more appropriate ways to screen employment candidates.

Your thoughts?

Posted on May 04 2000, 10:39 AM


Untitled
by R.J. Safranek

I agree that performance is an important measure but that only goes so far. Drug testing is an invasion of your private life. However, this invasion can be justified in one way for sure. There are many jobs (think airline pilot or doctor) where people are putting their lives in the hands of that individual. If that individual is under the influence of a drug that can seriously impair that individual, I'm speaking more of alcohol and hard drugs, then that person does not have the right to be in charge of other people's lives. This only applies, for me, to testing right before performance is required, pre-flight or pre-surgery. What do you think?

Posted on May 04 2000, 11:36 AM

Respond


Disagree - what about morale?
by Tumara Campbell

If I went to medical school and racked up thousands of dollars in loans, studied more than just about anyone in college or professional school, gave up nights and weekends with my loved ones to be on call for people who needed help, and basically devoted my life to other people's lives, I would be PRETTY DARNED DISAPPOINTED if every time I had to go into an operating room, someone asked me to submit to a drug test. I mean, give me a break. It takes a certain type of person to be a pilot or doctor. Not that many people WANT to have that sort of responsibility for human life. Why subject people who are so committed to their professions, by nature, to drug tests right before they are needed to be in the best state of mind possible??????????

Posted on May 05 2000, 03:59 PM

Respond


Here is a fact
by Bob Trucker

Tumara,
I have to tell you that I am personally aware of many doctors and nurses that have routinely showed up for work drunk or under the influence of some type of drug. Many of these professionals have gotten help and are now sober, but for many years, sometimes decades, they showed up at work in hospitals and clinics under the influence. These people are now the first ones to want to have their profession tested, but they want it to be done privately and by the American Medical Association (AMA), not the hospitals, so these doctors donít loose their jobs and livelihoods. This is the greatest fear of these doctors is that the public will find out and then there will be a scandal. Who wins if that happens? So consider the next time you need a minor or even a major surgery; is that guy that is holding your life in his hands maybe just a little buzzed or is she jonesing for a hit of crack and not as focused as she should be. A scary proposition.

Posted on May 07 2000, 06:49 AM

Respond


Not all doctors angels
by Kamen Kolev

Tumara,

I agree that doctors put more effort in getting their degrees than most of us, however no vices are foreign to them. They are just people.
One of my very good friends is a dentist and I know several doctors from him. You wouldn't believe how some of them talk about their patients in private, and what they do on weekends.

Still, I agree that drug testing is humiliating, but this applies to everybody, NOT JUST TO DOCTORS OR PILOTS.

Posted on May 08 2000, 04:29 PM

Respond


Drug is addictive.
by Daekeun Bae

Do you think it is really possible that you will not have drugs temporarily before you go to surgery room even though you are addicted? Let me tell you something. I smoke a lot but I used to decide many times to quit smoking. But all my efforts were in vain. I do not think the test right before the important job performance will work. Because if they do not take drugs before they go into the important operation, they would be suffering from "withdrawal effect" and it is more dangerous than drug itself. Considering drugs, there is the only way either you quit drugs permanently and do the jobs or you quit your job if you can not quit drugs. Daekeun Bae

Posted on May 05 2000, 08:43 PM

Respond


using drugs <> drug addiction
by kimv

I think it's important to remember that there are many types of drug users, not all of them are addicts. There are:

- people who require medication to adjust a chemical imbalance (bipolar disorder, depression)

- people who use drugs for pain relief (heroin is a legal,prescribed pain medication in Europe, not in the US. Marijuana also has many pain relieving benefits, but also happens to be illegal in this country)

- people who use drugs (yes, many of them illegal) for recreational purposes, but do so in a responsible manner. Many of these people are just as responsible as the person who will have a drink or two to unwind on the weekend.

Just as not all people who drink are alcoholics, not all people who use drugs are drug addicts.

It is very possible to use drugs responsibly and to perform well in the workplace. I'm guessing that several of our fellow MBA candidates fall into this category.

Posted on May 06 2000, 11:07 PM

Respond


Thank you for info
by Daekeun Bae

Thank you, Kim for reminding me of that. I admit that My concept of drug was so narrow.

Daekeun Bae

Posted on May 08 2000, 10:51 PM

Respond


Response
by David Constant

Great point.

Unfortunately, in some industries it is very difficult to determine beforehand if drug problems will affect performance. One story I heard on the radio comes to mind. (If my recollection is correct, this was a true story).

An airplane pilot successfully landed a plane, but somehow test results showed his blood alcohol level was in excess of the legal limit (by a large margin). Evidently, the pilot was a seasoned alcoholic, so he could drink a lot and it would not have a major impact on his performance. When confronted with the issue, he said "(the fact I drank) is irrelevant, because I could still do my job".

He has a good point, but I think it does not consider the fact that you can not always predict with certainty the body's reaction to drugs. For example, maybe he can do his job when drinking. However, if the alcohol was accidently mixed with another drug (e.g. medication), serious side effects may occur that jeopardizes his ability to do his job. (Hence, an unexpected risk).

The only way to mitigate this small, yet realistic risk is to ensure that the pilots are not intoxicated to begin with. When 200 lives depend on the pilot's coherence, a drug test is worth it.

Until these "performance tests" can properly account for these unexpected risks, I think there is no choice but to continue drug testing.

Posted on May 04 2000, 02:42 PM

Respond


Read me!
by Allan Jeong

ELABORATE & COMMENT ON EACH OTHER's MESSAGES:
To promote true discussion and the exchange of ideas, read the messages already posted to the bulletin board, and "post replies" to the messages to elaborate or comment on the ideas of other group members.

INITIATING A NEW LINE OF DISCUSSION:
If you want to initiate a new line of discussion or message thread, click on "Post new message" off the main page.

Posted on Apr 28 2000, 09:48 AM

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