Under federal and state laws, several rules govern the use of drug testing on employees and job applicants. Employers and employees alike should know their rights about drug testing. Read up on the most pertinent drug testing laws below. 

Mandated Drug Testing

The federal government requires that individuals in certain positions take pre-employment drug tests. These mandates are often imposed on jobs that would be particularly unsafe to perform while under the influence. Security and transportation are the main industries that tend to implement these mandates. 

Operating construction equipment or a tractor-trailer while under the influence would be particularly devastating. These types of equipment are large. Therefore, they can cause lots of damage, injuries, and deaths in the event of an accident. It’s only natural that lawmakers would seek to prevent as many of these accidents as possible.

In addition to federal mandates, some states have also passed laws to require drug testing for healthcare workers. Healthcare workers often have access to a variety of drugs given the nature of their work. Pre-employment drug screening and random drug tests serve to discourage drug abuse among these professionals. 

Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988

Federal grant recipients and federal contractors with substantial contracts of at least $100,000 must adopt drug-free workplace policies. The law also requires them to create programs to promote drug-free initiatives. 

Per the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, these entities must adopt a policy that explicitly “prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance in the workplace.”  This law also requires that employees of such entities self-report any drug-related convictions committed while in the workplace within five days. Also, the law requires federal grants to report such violations of their drug-free policies to the government agency providing the grant. 

This legislation does not allow for random drug testing of employees. However, government contractors and grantees may choose to implement drug testing within the parameters of the laws of their state. 

State Laws Governing Drug Screening

Much like the laws governing federal grant recipients and contractors, states have their own rules regarding pre-employment drug screening. Often, these rules are very similar across different states. In California, the California Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1990 requires companies that receive state government contracts or grants to certify their need of a drug-free workplace. 

In contrast, however, this legislation also protects employees of private entities from drug screening. There have been multiple instances in which employees successfully sued their employer for invasion of privacy for ordering drug tests. Also, there have been legal cases for wrongful termination following refusal to submit to drug testing.

This provides employees of private companies a level of privacy that is not afforded to federal and state government employees. 

Some states don’t have laws to dictate when and how employers can require drug testing. These include North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, to name a few. In these states and others without such laws, there aren’t any rules or regulations to limit employers from issuing mandatory drug tests at will. 

National Labor Relations Act

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) upholds the right for unionized workers to engage in collective bargaining with private employers. The NLRA does allow unionized workers to be drug tested in pre-employment screening. However, if employers wish to invoke this process, they must negotiate the terms and procedures for drug screening with the employees’ union. 

There are many laws that allow employers to require drug testing for employees. Nevertheless, there are also laws in place to protect workers’ right to privacy. In many cases, pre-employment drug testing is perfectly legal. Outside of government contractors and grant recipients, California law only allows drug testing of employees under specific conditions. 

Make sure you know your rights about workplace drug screening. If you need a drug test for your job, Soteria Screening Laboratories can provide you with a simple, streamlined experience to get it done. 

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