Laws on drug testing are complex, inconsistent, and constantly change based on court and legislative decisions. Precisely, there has been a lot of movement in regards to state marijuana legislation over the past few years. As of now, Washington DC and 30 states have recreational marijuana law.
Even though companies want to have drug-free workplace programs to keep their employees productive and safe, many today have questioned the impact of such programs. It appears to some that such programs are more intent on discriminating and shaming drug users more than they are focused on helping drug users pass through their drug-related challenges, if any. Ultimately, the buck stops with the government and the laws that they create to safeguard the rights and liberties of employees in the workplace.
This article will answer all questions on drug tests, your rights on it, and whether you can choose not to take a compulsory drug test.
Your Drug Testing Rights
Employers can resolve to do drug tests on their employees. To succeed in this though, employees should first consent. A drug test should be given when an employer has grounds of drug-testing you under a detailed contractual occupational safety and health policy.
This policy must have been well defined in your employment contract, or in the handbook of the company. The employer is required to limit drug testing to only workers that need testing.
Random Drug Tests
If an employer intends to conduct random tests to their staff, the drug tests ought to be genuinely abrupt. It is discriminatory to single out a specific worker or group of workers for testing unless the nature of their jobs justifies it.
Privacy in Drug Tests
Searching an employee is a sensitive issue and companies are recommended to have in place a written policy regarding the same. Searchers are required to respect privacy. The person carrying out your drug test should be of the same gender as you, and the test carried out in the presence of a witness.
Can You Refuse to Take a Drug Test?
You cannot be forced to test for drugs. However, if you decline, your boss may have grounds for getting you tested under a suitable occupational safety and health policy. You may also face disciplinary action if drug tests are a stipulated requirement in your employment contract – this can include getting fired.
If you are a job applicant, going through a drug test might be compulsory if the company you are applying to work for has set this as a requirement. The court allows pre-employment drug testing on the grounds that employers have a right to assess potential employees, and that people have an option of not applying for jobs that require drug tests.
Compulsory pre-employment drug test should be done with the intention of ruling out the possibility of compromised judgment or reaction time when the job at hand requires such accuracy. An employer can always argue that should an employee be under the influence of such a drug, the quality of their output will be compromised and may even jeopardize safety at the workplace. But if such does not apply, an employee can argue that the drug test is not necessary.
As more states and countries move to legalize marijuana, we expect to see hardliners soften their stance on drug testing, especially as a pre-employment prerequisite. What we hope to see are more supportive frameworks for drug users in the workplace to ensure that both productivity and safety is not compromised. But up till then, know that drug testing is legal and a positive result can cost you a potential job or any such similar opportunity.