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Drug Testing and Substance Abuse Management Update: Compliant and Effective Strategies for Employers Amidst Marijuana Legalization and the Opioid Addiction Crisis

Drug Testing and Substance Abuse Management Update for Texas Employers

Product Code: DT17TX1

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Drug Testing and Substance Abuse Management Update for Texas Employers: Compliant and Effective Strategies for Employers Amidst Marijuana Legalization and the Opioid Addiction Crisis

On-Site Seminar:
San Antonio | Thursday, December 7, 2017

MASTER CLASS SNAPSHOT: In just one day, gain practical information on and strategies to address drug testing and substance abuse in the workplace.

Recent state regulatory developments regarding medical and recreational marijuana have created a complex web of compliance concerns for employers as they try to navigate drug testing policymaking and substance abuse management in the workplace. A sweeping opioid abuse epidemic further compounds these challenges, requiring that employers maintain a delicate balance between business objectives, employee rights, and ADA requirements.

It's in an employer's best interest to be proactive on this issue. According to the National Safety Council, the estimated yearly economic impact of substance use disorders exceeds $442 billion. Workplaces assume a great deal of these costs in the form of absenteeism, increased healthcare expenses and lost productivity. On the other end, each employee who recovers from a substance abuse disorder saves a company more than $3,200 a year.

This one-day comprehensive seminar will connect you with knowledgeable attorneys to provide practical information and strategies to address these sensitive and increasingly prevalent workplace issues.

You’ll learn:

  • Your legal rights and limitations regarding drug testing (and will receive a sample policy to customize for your organization)
  • Post-accident drug testing best practices and strategies to comply with OSHA’s ‘Reasonable’ Reporting and Anti-Retaliation Provisions
  • How to address emerging compliance obligations regarding medical and recreational marijuana use
  • Steps you can take to manage the effects of the opioid epidemic on your workforce and minimize your legal liabilities
  • Ways that you can leverage employee assistance plans and other benefit programs to combat addiction and aid in timely recovery

Master Class Agenda

Registration and Breakfast
7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

How, When, and Why to Drug Test: Your Legal Rights and Limitations in Policy Development and Enforcement
8:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.
Presented by Adele Abrams, Esq., CMSP, Law Offices of Adele L. Abrams, PC
This solutions-focused workshop will kick off with a comprehensive overview of the current regulatory landscape concerning the legality of drug testing.

This session will examine:

  • When an employer may conduct drug testing on prospective and current employees
  • The types of drug and alcohol testing methods that are permitted under the law, which are most accurate, and what they are likely to reveal 
  • The ins and outs of developing a comprehensive drug-testing program designed to give you the information you need to make informed and legal hiring and other employment decisions
  • Drug and alcohol testing policy essentials, and instances when enforcement of zero-tolerance policy language may spark legal issues 
  • How to train supervisors and managers on warning signs that someone might be under the influence 
  • The action plan for addressing a situation when you suspect an employee is drunk or high at work 
  • What to do if an applicant or a current employee demands to be retested because the test revealed a false positive result 

As a bonus, you’ll also get BLR’s Drug and Alcohol Sample Policy!

New Guidance on Post-Accident Drug-Testing and Safety Incentive Programs: How to Comply with OSHA’s ‘Reasonable’ Reporting and Anti-Retaliation Provisions
9:25 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.
Presented by Adele Abrams, Esq., CMSP, Law Offices of Adele L. Abrams, PC
OSHA’s 2016final rule updated requirements for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses, which also included a new provision that explicitly addressed retaliation for reporting incidents. OSHA has also released a memo providing guidance on how to comply with the various requirements found in the final rule. The memo specifically addresses an employer’s obligation to have reasonable procedures in place for employees to report injuries and illnesses and the issue of retaliation for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses. This session will cover your compliance obligations concerning post-incident drug and alcohol testing and incentive programs—and will help you understand when you could be at risk for violating the anti-retaliation provision of the rule, according to OSHA’s recent memo.

You’ll learn:

  • The key parts OSHA’s recently released memorandum addresses concerning: 
    • Incentive programs
    • Anti-retaliation
    • Post-incident drug and alcohol testing expectations relative to your injury and illness reporting process
  • What recent OSHA violation activity relative to reporting and recording injuries and illnesses signals
  • Tips for reviewing whether your reporting and recordkeeping program is compliant and up to-date-considering new developments concerning post-incident drug and alcohol testing and safety incentives  
  • How to assess your existing recordkeeping and reporting components to ensure that they are fully compliant with OSHA interpretations and directives

Networking & Refreshments Break
10:40 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.

Medical and Recreational Marijuana at Work: Multi-State Updates for Emerging Compliance Obligations
11:10 a.m. – 12:25 p.m.
Presented by Danielle Alexis Matthews, Esq., and Andrew Yeh, Esq., Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP
According to a recent Gallup poll, more people are using marijuana these days. The survey reveals that 43 percent of adults nationwide have tried cannabis. Thirteen percent of respondents said they currently use it, and more than half of Americans favor the legalization of marijuana. Also, a recently released Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ reveals that drug use among American workers has reached the highest level in 12 years. The findings came from analyzing 10 million workers’ employment-related drug tests.

Given the uptick, employers nationwide are left struggling to fully understand how recently passed state laws legalizing recreational marijuana possession and use and other state laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana impact what they can and can’t do to monitor and restrict cannabis use or possession among their employees.

While marijuana is still illegal under federal law, 28 states have passed legislation giving medical marijuana usage the green light. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. And, several states have enacted laws making the possession of small amounts of the drug a civil, not criminal, offense. How does the evolving legal landscape concerning medical and recreational marijuana affect employment policies on drug testing and off-duty conduct?

During this session, you’ll learn:

  • The changing legal landscape—where and when medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are legal in states around the country and the District of Columbia
  • Best practices for federal contractors to follow with respect to drug testing and usage to ensure they don’t lose federal funding
  • Which state laws explicitly include employee non-discrimination protections and which likely don’t
  • How to address the off-duty use of marijuana
  • How medical marijuana laws interact with unemployment and workers’ compensation-related benefits
  • Whether medical marijuana usage may qualify as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)  
  • How to develop and manage drug-testing policies and practices in light of the current legal landscape
  • How to decide if your organization should test for marijuana
  • What to do if an employee tests positive for marijuana usage 
  • The role of fitness for duty evaluations, and best practices for workplace safety

Networking Lunch
12:25 p.m. – 1:25 p.m.
(Your boxed lunch is included with your registration!)

The Opioid Epidemic: Steps You Can Take to Manage Effects, Combat Worker Addiction, and Limit Your Legal Liabilities
1:25 p.m. – 2:40 p.m.
Presented by: Phil Walls, R.Ph., myMatrixx and Adele Abrams, Esq., CMSP, Law Offices of Adele L. Abrams, PC
Opioids are a powerful class of drug and usage has proven to result in debilitating addictions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose-related deaths are up and six out of 10 of the fatalities involve an opioid. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the United States has quadrupled even though there has not been a change in the amount of pain being reported. The CDC has characterized the situation as an epidemic, and this crisis is particularly concerning for employers.

You have a duty to maintain a working environment that is “free from recognizable hazards … causing or likely to cause death or serious harm to employee” under the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s (OSHA) general duty clause. Opioid use among your workers could have a serious impact on that environment.

Consider, too, that if an employee is injured on the job, he or she may be prescribed a powerful opioid to manage the pain. The longer the employee is on that medication, the greater the risk of addition. What can your organization do to minimize the risk of addiction when employees are taking prescribed drugs to manage chronic or acute pain?

During this session, you’ll learn:

  • Practical—and legal—steps you should take to manage the impact of the opioid epidemic 
  • Recent research showing why opioid usage is a serious cause for concern for employers nationwide
  • The practical impact opioid usage can have on worker productivity and safety, and when you have an obligation to take action under OSHA’s general duty clause
  • Strategies to reduce the risk of employees becoming addicted to powerful opioid painkillers when they’re taking the drugs to cope with a workers’ compensation injury 
  • Warning signs of a potential opioid addiction 
  • How HR, safety, medical professionals, and workers’ compensation claims adjusters can take steps to help addicted workers manage their issues 

Networking & Refreshments Break

2:40 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

How Employee Benefit Programs, Including Health Insurance and Employee Assistance Programs, Can Help Employees Recover From Addiction
3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Presented by Eric Schillinger, Esq., Trucker Huss
Last year, the Department of Labor (DOL) stepped up enforcement of mental health parity requirements for group health plans. This represents a growing effort to ensure that group health plans are in compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). In fiscal year 2016, the DOL investigated 330 health-care plans finding dozens of violations—with most of the related to how plans handle non-quantitative treatment limits (NQTLs).

If your organization’s group health plan covers mental health and substance abuse disorders (MH/SUD), there are specific financial parity requirements the plans must meet concerning things like copays and deductibles. Also, parity is required concerning benefit limitations affecting the scope or duration of treatment. In total, there are six categories of benefits where parity between MH/SUD and medical/surgical coverage must be demonstrated. This session will examine final MHPAEA rule requirements and the most common compliance trouble spots to watch out for, as well as practical strategies on how employee assistance plans can be used to help addicted workers on the road to recovery.

You’ll learn: 

  • The most common ways MHPAEA violations occur with respect to NQTLs for substance abuse 
  • Key questions to ask, so you can evaluate whether your company is at high risk 
  • Potentially problematic healthcare plan treatment limits, including practices that deal with intensive outpatient programs for substance abuse treatment
  • When your employee assistance plan (EAP) offerings are covered under the MHPAEA, and when they aren’t 
  • Useful strategies for getting employees to take advantage of EAP offerings that can help them manage substance abuse-related issues 
  • How much substance abuse costs employers in terms of lost productivity time and absenteeism—and the business case for making substance abuse assistance offerings part of your benefits package
  • Communication strategies for talking to employees you are concerned may need professional help due to addiction

Q&A with the Experts
4:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Get your last-minute questions answered by our panel of knowledgeable professionals so you can address your own program with confidence. 


Your Faculty

Adele Abrams, Esq., CMSPAdele Abrams, Esq., CMSP
Firm President
Law Offices of Adele L. Abrams, PC

Adele Abrams, Esq., CMSP, an attorney, safety professional and firm president of the Law Offices of Adele L. Abrams P.C. is recognized as a national expert on occupational safety and health. Ms. Abrams heads a ten-attorney firm that represents employers and contractors nationwide in OSHA and MSHA litigation, and provides safety and health training, auditing, and consultation services. She is a Certified Mine Safety Professional, and a Department of Labor–approved trainer. Ms. Abrams is on the adjunct faculty of Catholic University in Washington, DC, where she teaches employment and labor law.

Ms. Abrams is also a professional member of the American Society of Safety Engineers, and is co-author of several safety-related textbooks. She is chair of the National Safety Council’s Business & Industry Division committee on regulatory and legal affairs. She is admitted to the Bars of MD, DC and PA, as well as multiple federal courts including the US Supreme Court. 

Danielle Alexis Matthews, Esq.Danielle Alexis Matthews, Esq.

Senior Counsel
Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP

Danielle Alexis Matthews, senior counsel with Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP, focuses her practice on labor and employment matters as well as general litigation. She has actively represented clients in multiple class action matters involving wage and hour and related issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and similar state statutes and laws. Danielle regularly represents clients in a variety of employment matters involving Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA), the Texas Workers' Compensation Act (TWCA), and similar statutes and regulations, as well as in employment related breach of contract cases, and cases involving the defense of Company commission and benefit policies.  She has also dealt regularly with clients on affirmative action issues, desk audits, and in comprehensive/on-site audits with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

On a daily basis, Ms. Matthews regularly communicates and interfaces with key management personnel and human resources representatives to provide insight and legal advice to those individuals on a range of personnel issues. Understanding the interplay between employment issues and peer review policies and procedures affecting the firm's health care clients, she also devotes a portion of her practice to advising, counseling, and representing healthcare management in nursing and physician peer review proceedings.  

Ms. Matthews prides herself on developing long-term and personal relationships with her clients, which she believes enhances her ability to anticipate, understand, and meet their needs and expectations.

Eric Schillinger, Esq.Eric Schillinger, Esq.

Trucker Huss

Eric Schillinger of Trucker Huss concentrates his practice in the areas of health and welfare plans, including major medical, dental, vision, life insurance, disability, employee assistance, fringe and other employer-provided benefits. He has extensive experience helping employers comply with the various federal and state laws applicable to health and welfare plans, such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, the Public Health Service Act, HIPAA, COBRA, FMLA and Medicare.  As part of his practice, he assists clients with drafting plan and trust documents, amendments, SPDs and other required disclosures for such plans; handling employer and plan audits by the IRS, DOL, EEOC and other governmental agencies; analyzing employee-benefit issues relating to all aspects of plan design and funding, such as the use of Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Associations (VEBAs) and plan restructuring that results from mergers, acquisitions, and other corporate transactions; preparing government agency filings, such as private letter ruling requests, ACA reporting, and state disability benefit plan applications; analyzing plan administrative, fiduciary and tax issues, including benefit claims and appeals, coverage mandates, nondiscrimination requirements, and income and payroll tax reporting; and reviewing and negotiating service provider agreements.

Ms. Schillinger has been at the forefront of the ongoing efforts by the new administration and Congress to repeal and replace the ACA and the potential impact on employers. He has given presentations on numerous aspects of ACA compliance and has written articles on the ACA repeal and replacement process for legal publications including the “expert analysis” section of, health care section of Federal Employment Law Insider and the Daily Journal. He has been quoted in articles covering ACA repeal legislation for Business and Legal Resources (BLR®), and He also participates in a law commentary podcast as a guest to discuss the legal, economic and political implications of various ACA repeal and replacement proposals.

Phil Walls, R.Ph.Phil Walls, R.Ph.

Chief Clinical Officer

Phil Walls is the Chief Clinical Officer for myMatrixx. He joined the company in 2006 and oversees all aspects of myMatrixx’s clinical program including drug utilization review, formulary management, drug regimen reviews and targeted intervention with prescribing physicians.

Mr. Walls has been instrumental in developing myMatrixx’s clinical program, Get Ahead of the ClaimSM, designed to mitigate risk earlier in the claim process and provide better outcomes for injured workers. This includes the proprietary myRisk Predictor tool and medication therapy management program designed to reduce the use of opioids in the industry.

Mr. Walls is a clinical pharmacist with over 25 years of experience in pharmacy, healthcare informatics and workers’ compensation. Previously he served in leadership positions within the industry with Health Information Designs, Inc., PMSI and Cigna Healthcare of Florida, Inc. He is a published author and frequent national speaker on clinical issues in workers’ compensation.

Mr. Walls is a highly regarded clinical pharmacist who is frequently asked to speak on topics related to proper medication therapy management. This is his passion and his priority—educating people and patients on the dangers of opioid abuse and the epidemic that is devastating the lives of so many people across our country.

In recognition of his contributions to the industry, Mr,. Walls was honored to be named CompPharma’s 2015 Person of the Year and to receive the Dorland Health People Pharmacist Award. He is a member of the AMCP, APhA, APS, ASAP, ASHP, FPA and the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research. He received his Bachelor in Science in Pharmacy from Mercer University School of Pharmacy and was awarded Doctoral Candidate status in Pharmacology at Ohio State University.

Andrew Yeh, Esq.Andrew Yeh, Esq.
Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP

Andrew Yeh joined Norton Rose Fulbright's Houston office in September 2015.  As a member of the firm's employment and labor group, his practice focuses on assisting employers and their management personnel with a variety of day-to-day legal issues.  

Mr. Yeh also represents clients in a variety of employment disputes, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Texas Labor Code, and similar federal and state statutes and regulations.

Program Location and Date

When: Thursday, December 7, 2017 
Where: DoubleTree by Hilton San Antonio Downtown
502 West Cesar East Chavez Blvd.
San Antonio, TX 78207 

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