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Drug Testing in the Workplace



images (1)What happens for failing drug testing, depends on your employer’s or potential employers’ policy about drug abuse and the provisions in municipal or state drug testing laws.

Under drug testing laws, your employer might legally have good cause to fire or deny you promotion, while potential employers might justifiably refuse to hire you. If you’re fired for failing a drug test or you injure yourself and then test positive, state or local drug testing laws (or other laws) might even allow your employer to deny you unemploymentworker’s compensation ordisability benefits.

Drug testing laws vary by municipality and state. Additionally, by example, the Feds encourage treatment and rehabilitation verses punishment. Lastly, not every employer, state and municipality has a mandatory zero-tolerance policy. So, you just might get a second chance.

For example, instead of firing you for failing drug testing, your employer might offer an employee assistance program or ask you to seek help on your own, like a drug treatment program. While it might be better than a boot on your backside, it’s not necessarily for your benefit as much as it is for your employer’s. It costs employers a lot of money to fire employees and hire replacements. So, treatment programs might be a cheaper alternative and produce sober, grateful, more-dedicated employees.

But, if you refuse treatment after failing drug testing, you’re likely out of a job, even if you’re a responsible, recreational drug user who doesn’t really need formal help. Even if you accept treatment, your employer might be under no obligation by law to give you time off or sick leave pay.

To research your state’s drug testing laws and potential consequences, start by clicking on State Drug Testing Laws in the sidebar.

Do I have to submit to drug testing by law?

You don’t have to submit to drug testing if you don’t want to. That’s your right. But, the consequences might be about the same as if you failed drug testing, because you’re essentially guilty until proven innocent under the current program. Again, under municipal or state drug testing laws, an employer might have good cause to fire you, while potential employers might justifiably refuse to hire you.

Will I be arrested for failing drug testing?

This writer can’t speak for all municipalities, states and employers, but research reveals that it’s not likely. There’s too much controversy over privacy invasion and drug testing accuracy. It’s an evidence thing too. Nanograms in the sample you submit for drug testing is not the same as an ounce stashed in your back pocket. Besides, as previously indicated, the Feds encourage treatment and rehabilitation, not arrest.

However, you’ll likely get arrested if you’re caught using or carrying drugs on the job and your employer reports it to the authorities. You might lose your job, too.

Be aware that your employer can spy on you without your knowledge. Security cameras are just about everywhere these days, even in seemingly “safe” places like storerooms.

Can I sue for violation of my rights?

At this writing, pending lawsuits are challenging random workplace drug testing as a violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Additionally, employees and job candidates have sued for random drug testing and won, even though they tested positive. In some cases, they’ve won simply because employers did not abide by municipal or state workplace drug testing laws. For example, some municipal or state drug testing laws

  • Limit discipline for employees who test positive the first time
  • Don’t allow employers to make job candidates or employees pay for drug testing
  • Limit drug testing only to jobs for which workplace or public safety or security is a concern
  • Forbid random drug testing

But others have sued and lost. So, it depends on your particular situation, as do mostlegal matters. Bottom line is, if you fail or refuse drug testing and suffer consequences, you might be able to challenge employer policies or drug testing laws in court. See anattorney about that.

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