In addition to recruiting applicants with the right education and experience, many employers are concerned about possible drug use. Employees who are under the influence of drugs at work can pose a risk to colleagues, customers, and the general public, and a company that knowingly employs someone with a drug problem can face legal repercussions if the person commits a crime or causes injuries. Recent changes in state drug laws have led to confusion and have caused many employers to rethink their position on drug testing.
Workplace Drug Testing Policies
Many companies routinely screen job applicants for drug use and automatically reject applicants who test positive. Some employers believe such a policy results in a safer and more reliable workforce, but others say it hampers their ability to fill open positions. In some cases, a company will accept an applicant who failed a pre-employment drug test, but the individual may be subject to restrictions and follow-up drug tests. If an existing employee is found to have a substance abuse problem, a company may offer rehabilitation rather than termination.
How Changes in State Laws Have Affected Workplace Drug Testing
As several states have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana use, some state legislatures have enacted laws prohibiting employers from testing for marijuana at all, while in other states employers can only test for marijuana in limited circumstances. In some states where medical marijuana use is legal, state laws prohibit employers from disciplining workers for using marijuana when they aren’t at work, but other states allow companies to fire employees who use medical marijuana.
While routine drug testing is still required in many safety-sensitive positions, some employers in less sensitive industries have opted not to screen for drug use due to concerns that testing could cause current employees to look for work elsewhere and could discourage people from applying in the first place. Companies are also concerned about legal challenges and possible discrimination claims they could face if they tested employees and applicants for drug use.
If state law permits the use of marijuana, a company may still be held liable if an employee under the influence of the drug causes an accident that results in injury or death, especially if the company didn’t take steps to maintain a safe, drug-free work environment. In addition, opioid use has become a serious problem across the United States, and many employers are looking for ways to deal with associated problems.
Should Your Company Conduct Drug Testing?
Employee drug use can result in missed work, reduced productivity, medical costs, accidents, and crime. Having a safe workplace must be a top priority for any business owner or manager. Drug testing of job applicants and existing employees is still legal and important in many cases, but due to recent changes in state laws, it’s essential to understand your state’s current stance on workplace drug testing.
Contact us today to learn more.