Tennessee County Official Vows to Carry Out Own Workers’ Comp Drug Test

December 20, 2013

An East Tennessee official who refuses to enforce a county drug-testing policy says he’ll implement his own.

Hawkins County Property Assessor Jeff Thacker told the Kingsport Times-News that he still disagrees with the county policy, but doesn’t want it to end up costing the municipality $17,541.

Becky Brock of the Local Government Insurance Pool told a Hawkins County Commission committee that the county gets a 5 percent discount on workers’ compensation insurance premiums only if all departments comply with the policy.

Thacker told the full County Commission this past Monday that his solution would allow the county to keep the discount. He said the drug-testing policy would be in place within three months.

The county’s drug-testing policy says all employees are subject to post-accident drug screenings while employees who are in “safety sensitive” positions are screened before being hired and are subject to random screenings.

“I am not against drug testing, however, I am against the way that it has been implemented in Hawkins County,” Thacker told the commission. “It is part of my job as the assessor of property to operate my office according to the constitutions of the state of Tennessee and the United States of America — to protect not only the public from a possible lawsuit but also the rights of the employees who work for the assessor’s office. To my knowledge, three months has been given by the Safety Committee to address this issue in each office’s personnel policy, at which time I am currently working on.”

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