Court Orders Stay of DOT Direct Urine Observation

 - November 5, 2008, 10:10 AM

Last Friday, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Washington, D.C.) issued a temporary stay of the Department of Transportation’s November 1 implementation of mandatory direct observation of all federally required return-to-work and follow-up urine collections, according to George Ellis, executive vice president of substance abuse services at Maple Grove, Minn.-based Verifications. “Until the Court of Appeals issues a final ruling,” he said, “FAA-[regulated] employers may choose to have those federal collections directly observed, but it is not mandatory. This legal ruling has no effect on testing conducted under the employer’s own authority [non-DOT testing].” The DOT justified the rule by asserting that “the violation rate on return-to-duty tests is almost four times as high” and on “follow-up tests over twice the random violation rate.” The agency added that it “stands by its view that return-to-duty and follow-up tests involve a heightened risk of cheating, compared to other testing occasions.”