What Businesses Need to Know About Drug Testing Laws

Here’s what employers and employees need to know about drug testing regulations.

With the exception of highly regulated industries (such as military contracting and nuclear energy), federal laws do not specifically address drug testing in the workplace.  That being said, many states and local governments have their own laws and requirements.  In many cases, these laws leave it up to the employer to determine the necessity of testing prospective and current employees.  To learn more, here’s what businesses need to know about drug testing regulations.

Drug Testing for Prospective Employees

State laws permit employers to test applicants for drug use.  Such testing must be carried out at the expense of the employer.  Some states will only permit drug screening tests if the following set of conditions are met:

  • The applicant knows that the screening is part of the hiring process.
  • The employer has extended a good-faith offer of employment pending a drug test.
  • The test is conducted at an approved state-certified lab.
  • Every prospective employee is tested in the same manner.

Drug Testing for Current Employees

There are more legal issues when it comes to administering drug tests for current employees.  In some states, employers are forbidden from administering random screenings for all their employees.  Testing must be directed towards a single employee or a small group of employees who raise suspicion of drug use due to their behavior in the workplace.

Most courts have ruled that it is okay for employers to test employees after a workplace accident when possible drug use may have been involved.  For instance, if an employee operating a forklift was swerving into shelves or seemingly having trouble steering, then they would be a good candidate for drug testing.   Generally, the rule is that drug testing can only be administered to employees who have raised reasonable suspicion of drug use.

Reasonable Suspicion

While every state has their own definitions, with some states  being particularly strict, here is a general list of actions that lead to reasonable suspicion:

  • An employee was clearly using drugs and displayed physical symptoms such as odd behavior, slurred speech, or uncoordinated movement.
  • A credible source or co-worker provided a report or proof of an employee using drugs at work.
  • A worker displays significantly deteriorated work performance or erratic behavior.
  • There is evidence that a worker possessed, sold, or solicited drugs at work.
  • An employee contributed to a workplace accident with negligent behavior that could have been caused by drug use.
  • There is evidence that an employee tampered with the results or specimens of a drug test.

This is what employers and employees need to know about drug testing regulations.  Remember, drug screening can be a useful tool in keeping your workplace safe.  Want another way to ensure the safety of your workplace?  Then make sure you have the proper small business insurance protections in place.  For assistance with your business’s insurance needs, turn to the professional team at PMC Insurance Group.   Contact us today to learn more about getting competitive coverage for your small business clients.

By PMC Insurance Group

Since 1996, PMC Insurance Group has worked to help independent agents grow their client base by offering workers' compensation solutions for a wide array of businesses. As one of the most distinguished workers' compensation wholesalers in the country, we have the tools and resources to help you create coverage programs for both small businesses and large accounts.