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HAAS COMPANIES TAKE BOLD STEP TOWARD DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE; COMPANY OFFICIALS HOPE NEW POLICY HELPS WAR ON DRUGS IN COMMUNITIES

 HAAS COMPANIES TAKE BOLD STEP TOWARD DRUG-FREE WORKPLACE; COMPANY OFFICIALS HOPE NEW POLICY HELPS WAR ON DRUGS IN COMMUNITIES
 WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- A significant Pacific Northwest agricultural employer recently implemented a new, progressive corporate policy addressing the consequences of illegal drug use and alcohol abuse by employees and providing incentives to seek medical help if a problem exists. The new policy applies to employees of John I. Haas, Inc., and its subsidiaries Haas Fruit Co., Inc., and Haas Foods, Inc.
 According to Henry von Eichel, president, John I. Haas, Inc.: "The reality is we live in a time when these issues must be dealt with. Our companies employ many hard-working and dedicated people who work as a team. Many of our employees operate heavy equipment and complicated machines, drive semis and other kinds of vehicles, and perform a variety of tasks demanding full concentration and unimpaired reflexes. This new policy further supports our ongoing commitment to the safety and health of our employees."
 The Drug and Alcohol Policy, described as sensitive to employee privacy rights by Haas corporate lawyer Melita A. DeBellis, includes pre-employment testing for illegal drugs, drug and alcohol testing following work-related accidents and whenever reasonable cause exists that an employee is violating the policy, as well as random testing.
 DeBellis stressed the new drug-free workplace policy encourages employees to seek medical help if a problem exists. "We have provided incentives to make sure that employees who come forward, prior to any testing, and request medical help or counseling, receive it with no fear of losing their jobs," explained DeBellis. "Our company health insurance covers inpatient and outpatient treatment of drug and alcohol problems as well as counseling services for participating employees."
 DeBellis also explained that, compared to many corporate drug testing programs, the testing and review procedures implemented by the Haas program go to extraordinary lengths to protect the privacy of employees. Haas contracted with SmithKline Beecham Laboratories for the specimen analysis. A private medical review service offered by St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Yakima, Wash., is responsible for medical interpretation of the analysis. All test results are shared only with selected senior level management.
 Von Eichel expressed hope that the new Haas policy will contribute toward eradicating the illegal drug and alcohol abuse problem in the numerous communities where the Haas companies operate. "If we are going to win this war against illegal drug use and alcohol abuse, we believe corporations have a responsibility to their employees and host communities to take action," explained von Eichel.
 The three Haas companies operate in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Washington, D.C., and employ approximately 500 people. John I Haas, Inc., Haas Fruit Co., Inc., and Haas Foods, Inc., are headquartered in Washington, D.C.; Yakima; and Lake Oswego, Ore., respectively.
 -0- 1/15/92
 /CONTACT: Meg Mullery for John I. Haas, Inc., 202-342-8439/ CO: John I. Haas, Inc.; Haas Fruit Co., Inc.; Haas Foods, Inc. ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:


DC -- DC012 -- 9963 01/15/92 11:42 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 15, 1992
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