Stephen M. Crow and Lillian Y. Fok are with the Department of Management at the University of New Orleans. The focus of their research is personnel/ human resource decision making, particularly as it relates to gender, personal characteristics, sexual harassment, drugs in the workplace, and labor arbitration. Dr. Crow is a member of the AAA 's panel of arbitrators.
Does drug testing significantly alter the outcomes of labor arbitrations? The results of a recent study1 conducted by the authors indicate that it does not. Our research included the examination of over 200 arbitration cases involving alcohol and illicit drugs.
Specifically, we asked whether the outcomes of cases involving drug testing were different from the outcomes of those in which there was no testing. We found no differences in the decisional outcomes as to which party-management or the union-prevailed, regardless of the presence of drug testing. The use of drug testing simply did not impact the final decision. While, intuitively, drug testing should give an edge to management, it may instead complicate management's obligation to establish just cause. In fact, our analysis of the results suggests that when drug testing is included there are more hurdles for management to clear at the hearing: for example, chain of custody and impairment issues.