Testing employees or job applicants for drug or alcohol use invokes a controversial area of policy and law that is still establishing its parameters. No one denies that employee drug and alcohol abuse costs employers billions of dollars each year in decreased productivity, increased liability exposure, and higher workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Employers clearly have a substantial and vested interest in not only providing, but also ensuring, a drug-free workplace, for the safety and welfare of both employees and employers.
Controversy enters the picture when employers either ineptly or aggressively impose drug testing in a manner that may violate personal or constitutional rights, such as privacy rights or protections against unlawful searches and seizures. While drug testing is permitted in most states, it is not always mandated. For those employers who implement drug testing programs, it is imperative that the programs follow state and federal guidelines in order to ensure protection of employee rights.
Federal law and select state laws are discussed below.