Lolo outlines criteria for identifying when employee’ drug tests should be administered
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has outlined what he calls “identifiers” that should trigger an executive decision to enforce ASG’s Drug and Alcohol Policy, based on the local Alcohol & Drug Testing Employee law that became effective Jan. 6, 2020.
Under the law, the Human Resources Department (DHR) is delegated with the responsibility to implement provisions of the law.
“To ensure that all agencies of the American Samoa Government clearly understand the appropriate protocols connected with the performance and enforcement” of the Drug and Alcohol Policy, the governor outlined in a May 15th memo to cabinet members “guidelines being promulgated”.
“As leaders, the following are identifiers, which should trigger executive discretion for the enforcement of this policy with employees that show symptoms of using illegal narcotics and alcohol in the workplace,” he wrote.
Inclusive of new applicant testing, Lolo outlined “additional criteria for your situational awareness and reference for appropriate enforcement.”
Among the criteria — “occurrence testing” — any incident that is a deviation from the expected behavior or planned course of events in connection with any ASG employee or ASG controlled operation that impacts or could affect health, public safety or the environment.
Another criteria — “reasonable suspicions” — which reflect an articulated belief that is derived from particularized facts and reasonable influence from those facts that an employee improperly uses or used alcohol or illegal drugs.
The third criteria — “safety sensitive positive” — is deemed any position, the performance of which would present a serious and immediate danger to the employee, co-workers, or the public if the employee is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or which demands the exercise of discriminating judgment or a high degree of care and caution where the health or safety of the employee, co-workers, or the public significantly involved or impacted.
Or any position directly related to the enforcement of any territorial or federal law prohibiting the illegal use, sale, manufacture, or transporting of alcohol or drugs, the governor wrote.
“It remains our collective responsibility to ensure that our workplace is free of drugs and illegal narcotics,” he said.
According to the governor, maintaining the strategic partnership with the Attorney General’s Office, Health Department, LBJ Medical Center and the Department of Human and Social Services “is crucial to provide technical assistance and support which have been instrumental with sustaining the level of resources to continue and expand our testing capabilities and rehabilitation efforts across our government workforce.”
Lolo informed cabinet members that DHR is available to provide additional information and support to ensure the government-wide Drug and Alcohol Policy is “comprehensively enforced”.
HOUSE DRUG HEARING
Meanwhile, the House Public Safety Committee had scheduled for Tuesday this week a hearing on the spike of drug cases in the past weeks that some committee members point to cases in court as reported by Samoa News.
However, two committee members told Samoa News yesterday that the hearing — which had been scheduled since early last week — didn’t occur after the House was informed by the Governor’s Office that ASG witnesses called to testify cannot appear due to the coronavirus emergency declaration.
The two members say the committee is still hoping to set up a hearing when the Fono reconvenes on June 8th after the current 3rd mid-session recess due to the COVID-19 declaration.
There have been many drug cases in court in the past several weeks and every day there are at least two new drug cases heard by the District Court.