Eastern Associated Coal Corp. v. Mine Workers, 531 U.S. 57, 9 (2000)

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Cite as: 531 U. S. 57 (2000)

Opinion of the Court

tion, (4) the driver must be subject to at least six random drug tests during the first year after returning to the job. 382.605(c)(2)(ii). Neither the Act nor the regulations forbid an employer to reinstate in a safety-sensitive position an employee who fails a random drug test once or twice. The congressional and regulatory directives require only that the above-stated prerequisites to reinstatement be met.

Moreover, when promulgating these regulations, DOT decided not to require employers either to provide rehabilitation or to "hold a job open for a driver" who has tested positive, on the basis that such decisions "should be left to management/driver negotiation." 59 Fed. Reg. 7502 (1994). That determination reflects basic background labor law principles, which caution against interference with labor-management agreements about appropriate employee discipline. See, e. g., California Brewers Assn. v. Bryant, 444 U. S. 598, 608 (1980) (noting that it is "this Nation's longstanding labor policy" to give "employers and employees the freedom through collective bargaining to establish conditions of employment").

We believe that these expressions of positive law embody several relevant policies. As Eastern points out, these policies include Testing Act policies against drug use by employees in safety-sensitive transportation positions and in favor of drug testing. They also include a Testing Act policy favoring rehabilitation of employees who use drugs. And the relevant statutory and regulatory provisions must be read in light of background labor law policy that favors determination of disciplinary questions through arbitration when chosen as a result of labor-management negotiation.

The award before us is not contrary to these several policies, taken together. The award does not condone Smith's conduct or ignore the risk to public safety that drug use by truck drivers may pose. Rather, the award punishes Smith by suspending him for three months, thereby depriving him of nearly $9,000 in lost wages, Record Doc. 29, App. A, p. 2;

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