Mandating workplace drug testing

return to top of document QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: DRUG TESTING IN THE WORKPLACE Drug testing allows employers to intrude upon the private lives of their employees.The “right to be left alone” is, in the words of the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, “the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.” Both the actual taking of urine samples and the analysis of the sample, which may disclose private information, violate this right to be left alone.In 2006, Irving unilaterally adopted a drug-testing policy in which 10% of employees in “safety sensitive” positions would be tested for drug and alcohol use each year.Day, a teetotaler since 1979, was tested for alcohol, and his breathalyzer test indicated a blood alcohol level of zero.According to a recent survey of 1,000 companies performed by the American Management Association,51.5% of the respondents engaged in some form of drug testing, representing a net increase of 140% since 1987.1 In spite of the serious consequences that can flow from this increasingly widespread practice, loss of privacy, damage to reputation,unemployment, emotional distress There are more effective, constitutional ways to address substance abuse in the workplace, including education and treatment of employees.Already, the growing awareness of health concerns, and drug education and prevention programs have contributed to a decline in drug use in this country.

Can my employer legally require me to take a drug test? Can I be tested and fired for marijuana in a state where it's legal? The laws surrounding marijuana are changing rapidly, with most states either legalizing it in some form, or considering legislation on the issue.

Perhaps the largest legal, social, and economic issue in the workplace is the use of drugs and alcohol.

The public policy of favoring alcohol and drug-free workplaces has been viewed by some as the most intrusive invasion of employee privacy rights to date.

The pros and cons of mandatory drug testing are well known and hence there is no need to consider the full debate here.

I want to focus on one important aspect of that debate—the misclassification rate of non-drug users (NDUs). In some cases, drug users (DUs) go undetected, and in others, NDUs can test positive.


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