Another trucking group has expressed to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration their opposition to the use of hair testing.
In a notice published in the Federal Register on Aug. 24, the Trucking Alliance asked FMCSA to amend regulations that would allow hair testing results to be included in administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Under the proposed amendment, carriers with knowledge of a positive hair test would be required to report the results to the Clearinghouse.
On Sept. 22, the Sikh Coalition and the North American Punjabi Trucking Association filed public comments opposing the proposed amendment. In the joint letter, the organizations stated their concerns “about privacy as it relates to hair testing and impacts on equal employment opportunity.”
The collaborative opposition is due to two concerns. First is the impact that false positives may have on Punjabis, South Asians, and Sikhs.
A 2014 study concluded that certain drugs incorporate at higher rate in coarse, dark hair versus thin, light hair – disproportionally affecting false positives among people with dark hair. As the organizations point out, the drivers they represent “overwhelmingly have brown or black hair.”
The second part of the opposition is faith-based.
In Sikhism, kesh is the practice of allowing your hair to grow naturally as a means to express one’s faith. This religious mandate includes not only hair on the head, but all body and facial hair for men and women. In the joint letter, The Punjabi alliance and the Sikh Coalition voiced their concerns on the possible, “ramifications of faith-based accommodation requests for hair testing by observant Sikhs who maintain unshorn hair.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has voiced its opposition to the inclusion of hair testing.
On Sept. 23, OOIDA filed public comments regarding the proposed amendment. The Association cited a number of concerns regarding hair testing, questioning its reliability due to contamination from the environment and the interference of cosmetic treatment on the analysis of hair. Additionally, the Association feels that the inclusion of hair testing would create unneeded concerns for drivers.
“The Clearinghouse should not accept the results of any hair follicle testing considering the inconsistencies and inaccuracies involved,” OOIDA wrote in comments signed by President Todd Spencer. “Even under current Clearinghouse regulations, drivers are not always assured of due process. Not surprisingly, drivers have shared legitimate concerns about their employment status following false positives and other contentious results.” LL