Monday, 26 July 2010

Falsely accused of taking drugs following a work place drug test!

The purpose of this site is to provide practical advice and guidance to assist people wrongly accused of taking drugs at work. Whilst the information is based on personal experience following a saliva test, the guidance is also valid for urine testing, as neither method of testing is subject to national or international standards in the UK, nor are the drug testing companies subject to external scrutiny by an independent drugs regulator as there is no such organisation in the UK.

If you have just failed a drug test following a random or for cause drugs test, then like me you will probably be running around like a headless chicken trying to find out what went wrong? The first questions I asked myself, did I eat something? Did I come into contact with someone who used drugs? Did they contaminate the samples when they collected them? Did they mix them up?

Brought up on a diet of TV programmes like Silent Witness, Crime Scene Investigators, Cold Case DNA and the wonders of forensic science, I just assumed that these tests are subject to the same rigorous standards. Let me assure you now that these work place drug testing companies are not even in the same league, in fact these tests are extremely unreliable and unregulated, SO DON’T PANIC!

If you have not taken illegal drugs or drugs prescribed by your GP, or any of the nearly 2500 different food products or non prescription medicines, then something has gone wrong!

The problem now is how do you prove that you are innocent? Your employer is unlikely to accept that it has all been a terrible mistake,[the whispers are that you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors} the drug testing companies will tell your employer that these tests are never wrong, and they are never going to admit that a poppy seed roll you had for your lunch was responsible! Safe in the knowledge that you do not have the expertise to prove your innocence they expect that you will proceed to take the B test, and when that comes back testing positive you will leave quietly, rather than be sacked for drug abuse which will make you unemployable.

Bingo, they have now proved to your employer that he has a drug abuse problem which justifies the fat premiums they charge for their drug testing services. Everyone is happy, and your employer did not even have to sack you. But you have just had your life ruined! Your work colleagues will wonder if you have taken drugs, your neighbours will wonder why you’re not going to work. Do you tell them the truth? And how do you handle the issues with your family. Even if you prove your innocence at a later date and pursue your employer into an industrial tribunal they will simply say they acted in good faith on the information they had at the time, you might be lucky and get a few thousand pounds.

My union United refused to supply a solicitor before the first hearing, and never offered to supply an expert witness, only after you are dismissed will they supply a solicitor to handle your appeal and without the support of an expert witness your chances of over turning the original decision are doubtful, so whilst its worth asking for help I suspect that you are on your own.

This is what you do! And do it before your first disciplinary hearing.

Do not do the B test yet, I will explain why later.

They will provide you with the A sample tests certificates for both the screening test and the confirmation test, the certificates look very authentic and will have a UKAS accreditation mark. Don’t panic the certificates are not worth the paper they are written on.

Write to your employer explain that you are innocent; {do everything in writing, even in the case of phone calls write and confirm your understanding of what was said and agreed}tell them that there has been a terrible mistake, that you do not take illegal drugs.

Ask your employer to carry out additional independent drug tests, if you’ve had saliva ask for a urine test, if these tests are no longer valid because of time delays ask for a hair test which can be taken up to 4 months after the event, note do not have your hair cut until after the test. Demand that the company which carried out the first positive test have nothing to do with the new tests. Be careful some companies trade under different names, but are in fact the same parent company. Research the internet.

Tell them that you will take the B test but first to discover what went wrong with the A sample and to decide how best to test the B sample you require the following information on the A sample.

1. All the chain of custody documents including the performers
2. The calibration records for the test unit
3. The full laboratory report for both the screening test and the confirmation tests
4. A copy of the method statements for carrying out these tests
5. Ask them to identify the whereabouts of the A Sample and most importantly the volume left in the A sample
6. Ask them to confirm the agreed threshold levels which varies depending on the type of drug.
7. And the regulatory standard to which these tests comply. Note UKAS is not a regulator.

My personnel manager refused to hand over this information, he said it was not relevant or necessary until after the first disciplinary hearing, which is absolute rubbish, I pointed out to him that I am innocent until proven guilty and I had a statutory right to see the evidence they were using against me, he still refused and I was forced to go above his head to senior management. He also refused to do any other independent tests. Your personnel manager may be more understanding.

Whilst waiting for the information on the A sample, arrange to have your hair tested, if your employer refuses to organise the test you will have to arrange the test yourself. Be careful, Drug testing companies do not take instructions from individuals for one reason you don’t have an account the other reason is that they will not send a collector to your house as they suspect you are a druggy and high risk. I contacted an expert witness he offered to come to my house take the hair sample for analysis and provide an independent report for two thousand pounds. Don’t get involved with these people. For a start if the matter goes to court they will challenge the chain of custody, i.e. did a relative provide the samples? The best way to proceed is to instruct a solicitor. The hair tests costs around 275 pounds, the solicitor will arrange for the collector to attend his office to take your hair sample and he will verify your identity, this is essential if you end up in court. The total cost for solicitor and hair test will be around 800 pounds. Advise your employer in writing that when you prove your innocence that you intend to recover all your costs from him.

Hair test, note they do not remove the follicles, you have wait about 3 weeks for the hair to grow, they slice the hair tight to your scalp and remove a pencils width of hair from 2 sites towards the back of your head, hopefully the surrounding hair will conceal the test sites. Take two samples A and B in case your employer wishes to challenge the result.

Your employer will be anxious to speed up the disciplinary process; you however must slow the process down in order to gather your defence, my employer accused me of stalling by refusing to do the B test and threatened to proceed to the disciplinary hearing based on the evidence of the A sample, I went to my GP explained my situation and he provided a sick certificate for stress, they cannot dismiss you when you are off sick!!! The next stage they will say that whilst you may be too sick to attend work you can still attend a disciplinary hearing, however they have to call you in to see the firm’s doctor this adds weeks to the process by which time hopefully you will have your evidence.

The laboratory results for the A sample. In my case the report was about 40 pages with a covering letter from my employer’s solicitor stating that everything was in order and a long detailed explanation justifying the positive result and that I should proceed to the disciplinary hearing despite my protestations of my innocence. I have to admit when I first read the report I was completely disheartened, however when I studied all the test documents and compared the data with the method statement, I began to find serious errors

There was no evidence that they carried out a screening test? My test was random, so the screening test should have been carried out in the Lab?
The method statement stated there should have been 400 m/litres in the vial, the report stated that there was only 125m/ltrs?
The chain of custody documents were blank, so there was no evidence of the condition of the samples when they arrived at the lab?
The test report made no reference to the samples I provided?
The test report indicated that my sample was negative; they tried to explain this by stating that a multiplier had to be used, the result was so high that I would be unconscious at the time the sample was collected?
The report was not sequentially numbered and printed out at different times of the day, suggesting that the calibration was a collaboration of different test runs?
The quality control samples were both one side of the threshold?
The calibration was 20% out at the threshold test range?

It’s obvious that these companies are never challenged by the victims, which would explain why the Laboratory test report was so shoddy and with no external auditors challenging the testing companies, these companies make up the tests as they go along.

My hair test came back negative, and I sent the saliva test report to an expert witness to confirm my findings, another 400 pounds. I refused to do the B sample test on my saliva sample as my employer refused to provide chain of custody documents and I had sufficient evidence to discredit the A sample.

The B sample, one of the other reasons why I refused agree to the B sample test, was because, when I asked my employer which laboratories to send the sample to, I discovered that of the three labs identified, one lab would only undertake tests for the police, the second lab was owned by the same parent company that carried out the A test, only the third Lab was independent.

My employer insisted that the B test be instructed by the same company that carried the test on the A sample, and that the result would be confidential and reported back to my employer!!! When I challenged the A companies involvement in the B test I was told that they had to vet the quality of the laboratory, I argued that if the UKAS accredited labs were not up to standard why had they recommended them? And when I asked for an explanation as to why the result should be confidential? They refused to answer??

This it the reason why, as an example, for heroin testing, they set a threshold of 5ng/mlts 6-acetylmorphine [alleged to be a derivative of heroin ]anything above 5 is considered a positive result, when they test the B sample even if the result is less than 5 they declare the result as positive

The truth is the B samples never come back negative, now you know why. If you cannot afford to do a hair test and are forced to do the B test, insist that the test is carried out by completely independent company totally independent of the company that carried out the A test, and demand that the full lab report is made available to all parties.


Remember these Mickey Mouse tests are not admissible in court; don’t be bullied by your employer.

I have written to Unite the Union asking why they signed me into drug tests, when they do not have clue what their dealing with and have no expertise in these matters, and I asked why they failed to install basic human rights safeguards??? After 8 months they have still not replied to my recorded delivery letters.

I then referred the matter to the T.U.C. who said they cannot help, and told me to go back to Unite.

I expected them to be furious at my treatment, instead I found myself dealing with two dinosaurs long past their sell by date.

I would be interested to hearing from other people affected by these tests

No need to supply your name and address, although your e-mail address would be useful if I have any questions. Listed below are the points I would in interested in.

Were you drug tested?

What matrix did they use Urine or Saliva?

Were you innocent?

Did you prove you were innocent?

Were you dismissed or resigned?

Did you ask for or see the full lab report For the A sample?

Did you ask for or see the full lab report for the B sample?

Did you accept the test certificates on face value without seeing the full lab reports?

Did you demand to see the calibration and chain of custody documents, or just assume everything was in order?

Did you ask to what standards the tests complied?

Did you assume that UKAS was an independent drug testing regulator?