Is Drug Testing Employees Legal?

Employee Drug testing

Drug testing is a common part of background checks on prospective employees. However, not all employees are subject to screenings. If you’re an employer and unsure of whether you should — or even can — drug test candidates and employees of your business, you’ll want to know your rights as an employer as well as your employees’ rights.

According to SAMHSA, employees in “law enforcement, national security, the protection of life and property, public health or safety, or other functions requiring a high degree of public trust” are required to undergo drug testing. This involves safety-sensitive industries like transportation, defense, hospitals, schools and universities, and any federal, state and county applicants.

Private employers, on the other hand, are not typically required to test for drugs. However, if necessary, they may choose to do so anyway, contingent on their state’s drug testing laws.

Can an employee refuse a workplace drug test?

Employees have the right to refuse a drug test. However, in many cases, you might use their refusal as grounds for termination with little or no recourse (and possibly even deny them unemployment benefits).