GLENVIEW — Drug testing before and during employment cannot only save a company from hiring the wrong people, but also point people in a direction they may need but not acknowledge.
James Jennings, president and CEO of Jennings Chevrolet and Volkswagen in Glenview, started drug testing his employees in 1991.
Since then, more than 100 people were not hired due to test results. Today, he employs 160.
“The first 15 years we did testing, there was more coke found than marijuana. I use to keep track,” Jennings said.
“Kind of scary thinking about all the possible accidents that could have happened,” he said, adding he uses InOut Labs.
“Drugs stay in your system. You can have more accidents and errors at the workplace. Mistakes have to be fixed by other workers. Compensations claims can increase,” said Tim Thoelecke who was looking for a new business to start. He was drawn to opening a drug lab where employers could test workers for drug use.
“I just liked the healthy message of encouraging and helping people not to abuse drugs,” said Thoelecke, a 1982 graduate of Glenbrook South High School in Glenview.
And because the Illinois medical marijuana law took effect Jan. 1, he believed it was a timely venture.
Although using marijuana for medical reasons was legal in Illinois, it still violated federal law, he explained.
“If a worker here says using is not against Illinois law, yet while some employers believe they’re on solid ground with the federal law, why fight it in court?” said Thoelecke, a Glenview resident who recently opened InOut Labs at 6449 Dempster St. Morton Grove.
“The best solution for an employer is having a clearly written policy on any substance abuse. I encourage doing so.”
Certified as a breath and alcohol technician trainer, Thoelecke also is trained in drug and alcohol testing for U.S. Department of Transportation and non-DOT businesses.
Private business employees who are regulated by the Department of Transportation, such as those with the Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, come under federal law that have not approved medical marijuana, so they are drug tested.
Thoelecke said most small businesses do not drug test.
“Because most employers don’t realize it could be a problem. My world outside my business doesn’t include drug users, but in this business I’ve learned a lot of people use drugs — illegal or prescription,” he said, adding heavy users are “preoccupied with finding their next high.”
From 19 to 35 years old, Marty (who declined to use his last name for print) abused alcohol and cocaine, but he has been sober for eight years.
A family intervention helped him get straight, but he also pointed to his employer who found professional rehabilitation for him at Holy Family Medical Center in Des Plaines in 2003.
“Ultimately, I had to rely on my employer to get help. There’s only a small window for willingness to get help and treatment, and that’s what they did for me.”
“So rather than sitting there and letting me flounder, my employer stepped in. My family didn’t know what to do,” he explained.
Looking back, Marty believed employers have a responsibility to have an official drug testing policy and program.
“It’s a big opportunity to help employees,” he said.
Marty also said drug abusers bring their addictions to work.
“They may be hung over. If using outside of work, their addictions could be causing financial problems at home, turmoil in people’s lives and fighting with spouses and kids, all leading to missing work,” he said.
InOut Labs also has programs for background screening, DNA relationships, corporate wellness and mobile services.