Refusal to Test

Last Updated: February 18, 2016

Definition - What does Refusal to Test mean?

A refusal to test refers to a number of actions that may be taken by an employee that results in an active or essential refusal to submit to a drug or alcohol test. State and federal laws vary as to what constitutes a refusal to test and what corrective actions may be taken by employers against an employee who has refused testing. The refusal to test may also be referred to as a refusal to submit.

WorkplaceTesting explains Refusal to Test

A refusal to test occurs when an employee takes an action, or fails to act in a way, that violates his or her employer's drug testing policy as it regards cooperation with the testing procedures. For example, under Department of Transportation rules, an employee is deemed to have refused to test if he or she fails to provide a required specimen, refuses to cooperate during the testing process, or otherwise impedes the taking and testing of a specimen when required to do so. Adulteration of the test sample or other efforts to "cheat" during testing are also considered a refusal to test. In the event a medical review of the test or process is necessary, an employee who declines to participate in this review may also be deemed to have refused to test.

A safety-sensitive employee's refusal to test is usually treated as though a positive result for use of drugs or alcohol was returned and the employee will be prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions until he or she is cleared to return to duty.

Outside of situations governed by federal law, a refusal to test may have different ramifications, depending on the employer's stated policy and the governing state law. In general, if an employee is legally required to submit to drug or alcohol testing, then the employee may be dismissed or otherwise disciplined for refusing to test.

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