On February 8, 2018, in Bowlin v. Servall, LLC, the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board affirmed the trial court ruling in favor of one of NST’s clients who was injured on the job. Following the trial court ruling that out client was entitled to medical benefits for her severe neck injury resulting from an automobile accident, the employer appealed alleging that the employer’s substantial compliance with the Tennessee Drug-Free Workplace Program rules was sufficient for the employee’s claim to be denied due to her drug test results that showed positive for marijuana. The employer additionally claimed that the trial court erred in awarding attorney’s fees based upon the unpaid medical bills.
In Tennessee, a workers’ compensation claim can be denied if an injured worker tests positive for any illegal substance, even if the injured worker was not actually under the influence of the illegal substance at the time of the injury. For example, if an employee used marijuana seven (7) days before that employee was injured at work, the employer can maintain denial of the claim based on the positive drug test results following the injury.
In the event an injured worker tests positive for any illegal substance following an injury, the viability of their claim may depend on whether their employer is certified through the Tennessee Drug-Free Workplace Program and follows all statutory requirements of this Program.