Does it violate my rights for a company to demand I take a drug test?

Q:

Does it violate my rights for a company to demand I take a drug test?

A:

In general, an employer's demand for drug testing does not violate an employee's rights. However, employer drug testing policies must be applied in a non-discriminatory manner and in compliance with various federal and state laws.

When can they make me take a drug test?

An employer may implement random drug testing as part of a drug-free workplace program or to prevent safety hazards in the workplace. Employers may also request that a specific employee submits to testing if the employer suspects that the individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or following an accident or injury on the job. Many employers have drug-free workplace policies that cover all employees. These policies are usually provided in writing to employees at hiring and employees are asked to acknowledge their agreement to the policy's terms.

State laws regarding employment-related drug testing vary. Some states limit the circumstances under which testing may be conducted. To determine whether a specific demand for drug testing violates the employee's state rights requires an examination of the applicable state's laws. Common state limitations include a requirement that drug testing policies be disclosed to employees in writing, that job applicants be notified in advance when drug screening is required, that testing is conducted by certified labs, and that employees be treated equally in any random selection process.

Are they required to drug test me?

In most instances, federal law does not prohibit or require employee drug testing. The federal Drug-Free Workplace Act does not mandate drug testing but requires federal contractors to certify that they will provide a drug-free workplace. Federal employers who elect to use drug testing to comply with the Drug-Free Workplace Act must comply with the Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing. These mandatory guidelines do not apply to private employers. For certain private and government transportation and defense industry jobs that are considered safety-sensitive, federal law does require employee drug testing and sets forth the testing procedures that must be followed.

Because state and federal laws tend to favor the creation of drug-free work environments, unless an employer's actions are discriminatory or violate an employee's right to privacy, a request for the employee to submit to a drug test usually cannot be successfully challenged.

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Written by John Hawes
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John Hawes is the CCO and co-founder at SureHire Occupational Health Testing. John graduated in 2001 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. As a former physical therapist, John uses his knowledge of physical therapy and interest in ergonomics and biomechanics to devise fit for work testing.

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