Reasons and Laws For Employment Drug and Alcohol Testing

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Many sectors like defense, safety, transportation, transit, and aviation need pre-employment drug and alcohol test. Several employers drug test their employees under specific scenarios.

Reasons and Laws For Employment Drug and Alcohol Testing

Pre-employment drug test

Drug testing of applicant is conducted before employment is offered or you can say it is part of post employment screening.

Drug testing for some cause

A suspicion that an employee is under drug or alcohol influence on job or arriving late becomes an issue or performance seems affected then he/she may need to submit a drug test.

Random drug test

Random selection of employees for drug testing at any time can be a wise decision. Sudden drug test helps to catch the specific employee/s under influence.

Post accident drug testing

An employee involved in on-job injury or accident can be tested for alcohol or drug use.

In the above situations, if an employee fails to pass drug screening then they are subject to job termination or disciplinary actions.

Laws regulating drug & alcohol testing

Federal laws offer employers to draw guidelines on drug & alcohol testing and prevention policies in their workplace. There are even state laws that regulate drug testing policies and how employers need to deal with substance abuse issues.

The ADA (American Disability Act) and Rehabilitation Act (1973) affect drug & alcohol testing policies.

  • Employers can ban illegal use of drug & alcohol in workplace.
  • Drug testing does not breach ADA but needs to meet your state needs.
  • Employers can terminate or refuse employment to those currently engaged in illegal drug abuse.
  • Employers cannot discriminate those who have been through drug rehabilitation program.
  • Employees who are rehabilitated or undergoing rehabilitation must be supported reasonably.
  • Under ADA, an alcoholic can be identified as a person with disability.
  • If alcohol use hinders job performance then employers can take disciplinary actions or terminate them.
  • Casual drug users are not protected under ADA act but those with addiction records or falsely judged to be addicts get covered.

Presence of alcohol and drug is displayed in drug tests like –

  • Blood drug test
  • Urine drug test
  • Sweat drug test
  • Breath alcohol test
  • Hair drug test
  • Saliva drug screen

(For employees, urinalysis is the common drug test used)

List of substance abuse that need drug testing

According to SAMHSA guidelines-

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Opiates
  • THC
  • Phencyclidine

Companies can even conduct the 8 and 10 panel test for –

  • Barbiturates
  • Methaqualone
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Methadone
  • Propoxyphene

Other testing can be done for –

  • Inhalants like glue, hairspray, paint
  • Hallucinogens
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Hydrocodone
  • MDMA

Duration of drug & alcohol residing in your system

  • 1 oz. alcohol – 1 ½ hours
  • Barbiturates, cocaine – 2 to 10 days
  • Amphetamines – 48 hours
  • PCP – 1 week
  • Benzodiazepines – 2 to 3 weeks
  • Heroin – less than a day
  • Morphine, methamphetamine, methadone – 2 to 3 days
  • Marijuana – Casually used (3 to 4 days) & Excessively used (several weeks)

If you are worried about employment drug test results then check your state laws and find out if it is permitted or not in your location.