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Pubdate: Tue, 18 Nov 1999
Source: KOIN, Portland, OR
Copyright: © 1999 KOIN

See also: Airlines OK cockpit smoking

Stewardess fired for drinking water

Drug Test Mix-Up Results In Firing

Delta Fires Employee After Random 'Diluted' Test Comes Back

PORTLAND, Posted 9:05 a.m. PST November 18, 1999 -- A drug test has turned the life of one former Delta employee upside down.

A negative test, that the company says was too diluted, cost Yasuko Ishikawa her job as a flight attendant, KOIN 6 News reports.

Ishikawa was given no warning before her random drug test earlier this year, but says she had nothing to worry about. Her tests have come out negative for drugs every time since starting work for Delta seven years ago.

Results show the test urine was too watered down. The flight attendant says she drank a lot of water during the nine-hour trip before her test. But she also says Delta encourages attendants to drink a lot of water on long flights. Now she can't understand why she won't be given a second chance.

"They took my ID, my travel card -- everything... I asked what was going on, in total shock," she tells KOIN.

English is Ishikawa 's second language, so it was difficult for her to fully understand. Once she realized her urine was too diluted with water, she quickly offered to retake the test.

"I can do anything. I can take the test now, give a hair sample, breath test or anything because I have never seen an illegal drug in my life," she says.

Delta refused to talk on camera, but an executive says the company has a no-tolerance policy for drugs. KOIN sent reporter/nurse Kris Eisenhauer to test Ishikawa and eliminate any chance of altering the urine sample. Eisenhauer knows there are a lot of factors to consider.

"It is possible for a person to drink enough fluid that they would dilute their urine to the point that even a sophisticated test would not detect drugs, but does that make a person a drug user?

"Maybe she just likes to drink a lot of water. Maybe they also need to take into consideration what she eats (and) if she takes any prescription medications, and if she takes any alternative medications," Eisenhauer says.

Jim Lanson of Public Service Laboratories analyzed the sample. It came up negative for any drugs and was not diluted.

Meanwhile, Delta told Ishikawa to keep quiet about why she was fired, but her friends say, "speak out."

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