Employment Drug Testing – How to Protect Your Company and Its Employees

March 6, 2019

Drug Testing Articles


Don’t fret about that test! Read more to learn how you can protect yourself and your employees during the routine employment drug test!

Well informed is well armed — never more true than with the issue of employment drug testing. Understanding the process will help keep your employees protected and your business on the right side of the law.

There are sometimes legal constraints on testing employees for drugs. These can vary from state to state. Nice as it might be to think that you could eliminate drug taking by giving every employee a daily test, that’s unlikely to ever happen.

Here’s the lowdown on everything you need to know about drug testing at work.

Tests on Current Employees

In some states, private companies are not allowed to carry drugs test across the board. Random drug tests may also be discouraged or even not permitted. Any testing would often need to be centered on an individual.

This could be because the employer has reason to believe an employee is using drugs. It could also be that a particular job has a high risk of causing injury if it’s carried out by someone using drugs.

Sufficient Grounds for Testing

Companies may be permitted to test employees if there’s been an accident that could have been caused by drug use. The same would be the case if an employee displayed erratic behavior which suggested that they were under the influence.

If a person is known to be participating in a drug rehabilitation program or has completed one then testing may be allowed.

This could also apply if there’s been a work-related incident in which the use of drugs appears likely. That could involve the discovery of drug-related paraphernalia at the workplace for example.

Appropriate Signage and Literature

It’s important that employees understand what the policy on drugs at work is. Clearly displayed signs which state that the business is a drug-free zone both inform and protect.

In some states, these types of signs are mandatory. They ensure that employees are constantly reminded of the drug policy. Pamphlets and videos aimed at substance abuse prevention can also be circulated to employees.

These could include a statement about the action the company will take over illegal drug taking. Reminders are again a good way to inform the employee and safeguard the employer.

Drug Awareness Training

It’s an employer’s responsibility to ensure those in managerial positions know how to spot the likely signs of drug use. That means providing regular drug awareness training.

Courses should include teaching supervisors how to isolate employees they think may have taken drugs. They should also explain how to mitigate the risks to the workplace before a situation gets out of hand.

Examples of State Variations

It’s important to understand the rules related to drug testing where you are based. They can vary from state to state. Here is a sample of some states and their specific policies.

In Texas, companies who employ more than fifteen people have to have a drug reduction policy in place.

Although there is no legislation in New York on drug testing, there have been several state court cases of interest. Those have upheld random drug testing on city bus drivers and police officers.

In Florida, state contracts must be awarded to those who have a drug-free workplace policy in place rather than companies which do not. In California, state contracts are only granted to those who say they’ll provide a drug-free workplace.

The Importance of Confidentiality

It’s very unlikely that a drug testing policy will be successfully challenged on the basis of invasion of privacy. There are several ways to test for drugs. How the results are used is equally important.

Positive drug test results can’t be used in any future criminal cases unless the employee consents. Tests must be carried out in a way that respects the individual. The results of any test need to be divulged appropriately.

Confidentiality is a vital part of drug testing. The results should only be made available to those who need to know. They should also be kept locked away when they’re not being used by those who need them.

When Employment Drug Testing Is Challenged

Employees have the right to refuse to take a drug test at work. If they are subsequently fired on the grounds of the refusal then there will probably be little they can do.

Some states can even deny unemployment benefits if a person is let go because they refused to take a test.

The employer must always exercise a consistent approach. A person may feel they are regularly singled out for a drug test without reasonable grounds. That could cause problems for the employer.

It’s also very important that drug testers meet the strict requirements of the state’s law. If they don’t they could be challenged on a technicality.

For example, it may be thought reasonable to have a monitor to listen as a urine test is carried out. However, it is likely to be thought an unreasonable invasion of privacy for the monitor to view the test taking place.

Reasonable Suspicion

Defining reasonable suspicion can seem like a bit of a minefield. Some courts have tried to set up guidelines. Facts and logical inferences would normally be essential. There many signs of drug abuse to look for.

They could manifest themselves in physical symptoms. These include slurred speech, erratic behavior or an inability to walk properly. There may also have been a significant drop in an employee’s performance.

An employer may also receive a credible and reliable report of drug use that’s been independently verified. If a person is thought to have contributed to an accident at work, then this may well be grounds for a drug test.

Keeping the Workplace Safe

All employees deserve to be protected from dangerous behavior that could be a result of drug taking. It’s important too that all employees are working to the best of their abilities.

Find out more here about employment drug testing laws to help you to keep the workplace safe.

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