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What Every Employer Needs to Know About Employee Drug Testing Policies

An estimated 37.3 million people in the U.S. aged 12 or older currently use one or more illicit drugs. These include opioids, pain medications, hallucinogens, cocaine, and sedatives, to name a few.

Such high prevalence rates have prompted more employers to conduct employee drug testing. One reason is that substance use disorder (SUD) can raise one’s risk of job injuries. People with SUD also miss an average of five work weeks, while those without SUD only miss three weeks.

But what exactly do the laws say about drug testing policies? Can employers even require a drug test?

We’ll answer all those questions in the guide below, so please read on.

Is Employee Drug Testing Mandatory?

It is for job positions within the safety and security industries. Likewise, federal contractors must enforce it as part of a drug-free workplace policy.

As for private employers, it’s their discretion to implement employee drug testing policies. However, some statutes legally compel them to take action against workplace drug use. One example is the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.

Other laws on employee drug testing protect the fundamental civil rights of workers. They indicate the lengths and means an employer can use to investigate employee drug use. They also set clear limits on what employers can do to workers who use drugs. 

Under federal law, employers can’t refuse to hire applicants due to their drug use history. Likewise, they can’t fire employees with a history of substance abuse. They can’t fire or refuse to hire workers who are undergoing rehabilitation, either.

When Are Pre-Employment Drug Testing Procedures Legal?

Many states let employers set a pre-employment drug testing policy. In this case, employers can test job applicants for drug use.

However, pre-employment drug testing is only usually legal under certain conditions. For example, the applicant must know that a drug test is part of the screening process. Employers often tell them so in their job postings.

Another typical requirement is for employers to test all applicants for the same job. In addition, a state-certified laboratory must perform the drug test.

What About Random Employee Drug Testing Procedures?

Many states allow random drug testing policies. It usually involves using a computer-based random number generator. That helps ensure the employees selected are genuinely random.

It’s also usually legal for employers to conduct a post-accident drug test. They can do so to determine if drugs or alcohol caused or contributed to the incident. For a more detailed guide on post-work accident drug testing, learn and see more here.

Lastly, employers in some states may conduct drug tests on specific employees. An example is if there’s a reasonable suspicion that a worker uses drugs.

What Happens When Employees Test Positive?

Many organizations immediately terminate employees who test positive for drugs. However, others allow workers to get treatment first. In such situations, employees must usually sign a Last Chance Agreement (LCA).

Seek Legal Help for Drug Testing Policies

Seeking legal advice can ensure your organization’s employee drug testing policies are lawful. Because if they’re not, you can expect it to face lawsuits from applicants or employees.

Thus, your best and safest option is to hire an employment lawyer. With their help, you can create a legal and fair drug-free workplace policy.

To read more informative guides like this, browse our most recent news and blog posts!

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