Workplace Drug Testing Policies and Random Testing
Wondering how employers treat random drug testing? Here is general policy information regarding random drug tests, but for the most relevant information, always check your empoloyer's handbook
Surprisingly, federal law has relatively little to say about workplace drug testing—other than for heavily regulated industries such as nuclear energy, military contracting, and transportation. States, on the other hand (and some local governments), do regulate workplace drug testing, which can vary widely from state to state. Often, the rules related to workplace drug testing can depend on whether an employer wants to drug test an applicant for a job, or an employee. Most states do allow pre-employment drug testing, although some have placed certain restrictions on the practice.
Some examples, according to Paycor, include:
- In the state of Arizona all private employers, plus school districts and any entities that furnish transportation to school districts may conduct pre-employment drug screening or testing, but only after the applicant has received the company’s drug testing policy. Refusal can be used as a basis for not hiring.
- In the state of Connecticut, private employers are covered. Former employees cannot be tested unless they have been gone for at least 12 months, and employers in certain industries can claim exemptions (including mining, utilities, construction, transportation, healthcare, social services, justice, public order, national security).
- Some states, like Arkansas, Colorado, and Kentucky have no state laws regarding workplace drug testing, preferring to follow federal law.
- The state of Nevada only permits workplace drug testing for public safety jobs that are a part of a state agency.
- Some states only allow workplace drug testing if the employer has already offered the applicant the job while others only allow workplace drug testing when all applicants for the same job are tested in a similar manner.
While each state is different regarding workplace drug testing policies, private employers usually do have at least some legal constraints. Most notably, some states do not allow either blanket drug testing of all employees or random drug testing. A workplace drug test in these states must be entirely focused on the individual employee.
While you can refuse an employee drug test, if you are fired for your refusal, you may have little recourse. In some states, you can be denied unemployment benefits if you are fired for a drug test refusal, but you could potentially be reinstated if you can show you were treated differently from other employees. Some states allow employers to add safeguards to protect against specimen tampering—like requiring the employee to remove their clothing and put on a hospital gown. Other states consider this a violation of the employee’s privacy.
According to the American Addiction Centers, the following statistics relate to drug testing in the workplace:
- The five industries most likely to require employment drug testing include: government, healthcare, manufacturing, automotive, and transportation.
- The five industries least likely to require employment drug testing include: administrative, customer service, farm and agriculture, human resources, and project management.
- Major cities that have the highest employment drug testing requirements include: Washington, D.C., Oakland, CA, Dallas, TX, San Francisco, CA, and Chicago, IL.
- Albuquerque, NM has one of the lowest number of jobs that require drug screening or testing.
- Some states and cities have prohibited random drug testing by employers. These states and cities include: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Boulder, CO, and San Francisco, CA.