What You Should Know about Random Drug Testing in the Workplace

Employers want workers to perform their jobs safely and competently. Drug use can prevent employees from carrying out their duties and may also put fellow staff, customers, and the general public at risk. Some employers believe random drug testing is the solution, but it’s important to understand the laws in the location where your company operates.

Is Random Drug Testing Legal?

Federal law doesn’t address the issue of random drug testing much, except in fields that are heavily regulated by the federal government. Military contractors, transportation and nuclear energy employees, and workers who handle sensitive information may be subject to random drug testing because of the potential risks associated with drug use. Many state laws allow state employees in similar positions to be randomly tested.

State and local laws vary in terms of when private employers may test employees for drug use. Some states allow random drug testing without reasonable suspicion if employees are notified in advance that they may be subject to random drug testing. Other jurisdictions prohibit random drug testing or testing of all employees and only allow companies to test specific employees if they have a reasonable suspicion that a person may be using drugs. The question of what is and is not a reasonable suspicion is subjective, but laws and court rulings have stated that reasonable suspicion must be based on facts and logical inferences.

For example, observation of a person using or possessing drugs, unusual or erratic behavior, a significant decline in work performance, slurred speech, agitation, lethargy, lack of coordination, and inappropriate statements or responses to questions could be considered reasonable grounds to require an employee to submit to a drug test. If there is evidence that an employee caused or contributed to a workplace accident, the employer may be allowed to test the worker for drug use since the results of such a test could affect the company’s liability.

Many state and local laws specify the types of scientific procedures that may be used for drug testing and require companies to provide workers with a written policy on drug testing and rehabilitation. Laws in some jurisdictions require companies to offer workplace counseling and outreach programs to help employees deal with a substance abuse problem.

Should Your Company Conduct Random Drug Testing?

Regulations on random drug testing in the workplace vary from state to state, and sometimes from city to city. It’s important to understand the laws in your location. If you were to randomly drug test employees in a place where that was prohibited, you could be sued.

If you operate a company in a place where random drug testing is permissible and you would like to institute a testing program, DataCheck can help you screen your employees for a wide range of illegal substances that could affect their performance. We can also provide pre-employment drug testing. Contact us today to learn more.

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