Meet the Expert: Nina French, President of Employer Solutions
In our second ‘Meet the Experts’ series entry, we’re chatting with Nina M. French, President of Employer + Law Enforcement Solutions at Hound Labs, Inc.
Nina is a recognized leader in the screening industry with more than 30 years of experience. She has a deep understanding of drug testing program design, policies, and technologies and is a frequent, sought-after speaker at conferences. In addition to her work at Hound Labs, Nina co-founded a consulting firm that provided drug testing industry expertise to hundreds of clients.
We are excited to share Nina’s story and get her perspective on common misconceptions about workplace drug testing and policies.
Hi Nina, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Can you please tell our readers more about your background in the drug testing industry?
I started in the drug testing industry in 1992 on the third anniversary of a startup Third Party Administrator (TPA). The company’s owner was one of the industry founders, Dr. Donald Ian Macdonald. He taught me everything about the industry, and as it grew and transformed, so did I.
I pride myself on taking very complex concepts and issues and bringing them to a level where they are easy to understand. I have spent much of my career designing programs, policies, and products to meet the primary goal of workplace drug testing programs – deterring the use of drugs and alcohol before that use costs money and lives.
You were recently elected president of the DATIA (Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association) board of directors. Can you tell our readers a bit more about DATIA?
DATIA1 was founded in 1995 and has grown to include more than 1,500 member organizations. DATIA now represents the entire spectrum of drug and alcohol service providers, including collection sites, laboratories, consortiums/TPAs, Medical Review Officers (MROs), and testing equipment manufacturers. It is a fantastic association whose primary goal is to educate and support its members. The support and communication among members of the drug and alcohol testing industry are second to none. Following a significant organizational change, DATIA spent the past several years recreating itself through the work of several very dedicated industry leaders.
I joined the board of directors and was elected president in 2022. I look forward to working with DATIA’s dedicated board to continue the organization’s initiatives, including launching a new website – myDATIA.org2 – and updating training and education materials. We hope to reengage the membership and look broadly across the industry to ensure we are providing the support and resources our members need.
What makes you passionate about the drug testing industry?
When I started in the industry in 1992, I thought I would learn everything there is to know in a few months. Now more than 30 years later, I never close out a week without learning something new. The drug testing industry is essential and evolving, and I love being a part of it. In my position at Hound Labs, I can focus a great deal on cannabis and how it is changing the industry’s landscape. I believe we are in the middle of some of the most significant changes we have seen since the industry began, and I am excited to play a role in those changes.
What are some common misconceptions employers have about drug testing and policies?
From my vantage point, two very common misconceptions exist. The first relates to policy. People believe a “one size fits all” approach will work for everyone and every company. Nothing could be further from the truth. Drug testing programs and policies should be living documents supporting each individual company’s safety and risk mitigation strategies. Policies can be effective tools to help companies reach their unique objectives when aligned with evolving organizational goals.
The second misconception is that drug testing is punitive. This approach is not, and should not, be the goal of drug testing. When implemented properly, workplace drug testing is a deterrence mechanism and supports employers and employees in maintaining safety and reducing unnecessary costs and risks. A good program prevents problems before they occur – saving jobs, and ultimately, saving lives.
What are some alarming trends you have noticed from employers trying to address changing drug testing regulations?
The increase in the availability of cannabis throughout the U.S., combined with the lack of understanding about products, their impacts, and their use, is alarming. We are just beginning to see the long-term repercussions of this as we look at early adopter states and their warning signs about the costs of cannabis use.
Further, the lack of understanding about impairment and the way impairment is being introduced through legislation is terrifying. Continuing to pass legislation without understanding these complex issues will take decades to unravel and occur at great cost to both companies and employees.
How does the HOUND® CANNABIS BREATHALYZER address the trends you listed above?
Cannabis use has increased throughout the U.S. across all demographics.3 We need to educate employers about new technologies and policies that can detect and deter recent cannabis use versus use outside of work. That is what the HOUND® CANNABIS BREATHALYZER will do. It will identify workday use and allow companies to create policies and testing programs leveraging this critical information, which was previously unavailable to employers.
How can readers learn more about creating effective policies and testing programs?
Here are additional blogs readers can use as resources along with their legal counsel. Readers can also learn more from Hound Labs’ expert Sammie Dabbs, Executive Vice President of Sales, in her ‘Meet the Expert’ blog.
About Nina M. French
Nina M. French is President of Employer + Law Enforcement Solutions at Hound Labs, Inc. She has more than 30 years of experience in the employee screening industry and a deep understanding of drug testing program design, policies, state laws and Federal regulations, and technologies. In addition to working directly for one of the leading drug testing service providers, Nina co-founded a consulting firm specializing in the drug testing and screening industries, which provided guidance to hundreds of clients. Nina frequently speaks at conferences and regularly contributes to the Hound Labs blog as well as other industry publications.
December 8, 2022
By CASEI MALONE