Emorys new pre-employment drug screening program, now in
its second month, is being piloted in four University divisions
before being expanded to all departments, probably within a year
or so, according to Human Resources (HR).
Implemented March 1 in HR, Campus Life, Facilities Management and
Community Services, the program tests nonfaculty job candidates
who have received conditional offers of employment from Emory for
illegal drug use. If a candidate tests negative, the job offer is
formalized; if a candidate tests positive or refuses to submit to
the testing, the job offer is rescinded.
I am confident this program will help prevent health and
safety problems in the division of Campus Life, said John
Ford, senior vice president and dean of Campus Life. We will
gain some useful experience implementing it as we fill several positions
over the next few months.
The policy has been under review for some time, according to Alice
Miller, vice president for HR, but the decision to adopt it was
made last fall. After taking a few months to form an implementation
plan, the program was introduced last month for the test divisions,
each of which requested to begin a drug screening program for potential
employees, Miller said.
This is just to maintain a healthy, safe workplace,
she said. Were the only major employer in Atlanta that
does not do pre-employment drug screening, so that makes us a haven
for those who are unemployable anywhere else.
The testing is performed by Quest Diagnostics, a leading provider
of medical diagnostic and testing procedures with hundreds of laboratory
testing facilities across the United States; the company has 24
facilities in the Atlanta area alone. Its website says it performs
medical testing on 100 million patients each year.
Once a job candidate receives a conditional offer of employment
at Emory, the candidate has six days to visit a Quest location and
provide a sample. Test results are sent to a medical review officer
at the University, who then informs HR and the hiring supervisor
wheth-er the candidate has tested positive or negative for illegal
drug use. Job candidates who test positive may not reapply to Emory
for 12 months, and positive test results caused by appropriate use
of prescription medication will not affect offers of employment.
Del King, director of employment services, said his office will
work with supervisors to provide all necessary information and consent
forms to job candidates, including those living out of state. Since
Quest offers so many testing locations nationwide, King said he
does not foresee undue difficulty in getting job candidates tested
within the six-day period, regardless of where they live, but he
said extensions could be made in extenuating circumstances.
We dont want this to become a complicated logistics
nightmare, King said. We will work with [supervisors].
Since the program began, King said, 53 job candidates have been
tested, with one person testing positive. Emory Healthcare has tested
job candidates for drug use for more than five years, he continued,
and out of 1,700 hires last year, 43 candidates tested positive.
The University hired about 1,500 new employees last year.
Miller said Emory Healthcare also reserves the right to conduct
for-cause drug testing of current employees, but there are no plans
to institute such a policy at the UniversityWere
not coming after our employees, Miller saidnor are there
plans to implement drug-testing for prospective faculty.
There are some deep differences, rooted in history and tradition,
in the ways the faculty and the nonfaculty at every university are
treated, said President Bill Chace. Faculty have been
exempt from certain procedures and tests at Emory, just as they
are at every university. They enjoy certain privileges, the most
important of them being lifelong security of employment (tenure),
and such privileges are, I believe, inalienable features of being
a deeply learned person, a professor. I think it quixotic and wrong-headed
to accord treatment of exactly the same sort to everyone on a campus,
and I am comfortable in saying that faculty will always enjoy their