Drug Testing in the Workplace
Workplace Drug Testing Employee Rights and Concerns (Cont.)
Part 2 of 4 of is below. It briefly explains how a workplace drug test is conducted and what might happen if you refuse to submit to same. It also provides links to state drug testing laws and other employer guidelines.
How Drug Testing in the Workplace is Conducted
Where and how workplace drug testing is conducted varies, by law or no law. As a result, the summary below might differ for your workplace drug test.
You'll submit a specimen from your body to a qualified individual or medical professional, either inside or outside of your workplace, such as at a clinic, doctor's office or drug-testing lab. Your specimen might be blood, urine, saliva or hair.
Urine or saliva are typical, because they're the least invasive to collect. But urine is the most typical at this writing. It's also the only specimen approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Subsequently and to keep it simple, urine is what this article considers to be a drug-testing specimen, unless otherwise stated.
To submit your specimen, you might be asked to change from your clothing into a hospital-like gown, watched closely, steered into a dry room or all, so you can't easily dilute or otherwise tamper with it. A "dry room" is a place with no water readily available to dilute your specimen. For example, it might be a restroom with the water supply turned off and tinted water in the toilets.
Then your specimen will be tested according to a "drug cutoff level" established for each commonly-abused drug. See Workplace Drug Testing Cutoff Levels for more information.
Refusing to Submit to Drug Testing in the Workplace
It's your right to refuse to submit to drug testing in the workplace. However, it's an employee right with no "teeth," as the end result of refusal might be the same as if you failed a drug test. An employer might take disciplinary action against you for exercising your toothless employee right of refusal, such as firing or declining to hire you, or forcing you to complete a drug treatment program in order to keep your job.
That's because, under today's standards for random drug testing in the workplace, you're essentially guilty of illegal drug abuse until proven innocent, contrary to your rights granted by the "innocent until proven guilty" principle of U.S. justice.
Subsequently, you might be able to challenge the legality of discipline for refusing to submit to drug testing in the workplace. Consult a lawyer about that. In fact, it might be a good idea to consult a lawyer before you refuse, so you'll better know where you stand.
Employer Guidelines for Drug Testing in the Workplace
When conducting drug testing in the workplace or establishing related policies, most Federal employers must follow the Model Plan for a Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace Program published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Some Federal agencies might have modified the guidelines for their own use, as did the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
Private-sector employers must follow guidelines established by state drug testing laws (or municipal equivalents), if they exist. The Drug-Free Workplace Advisor by the U.S. Department of Labor generally advises employers on how to design a drug-testing program, based on SAMHSA's Model Plan for a Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace Program.
Regardless of which guidelines they follow, private-sector employers would be wise to consult lawyers regarding their policies for drug testing in the workplace. Otherwise, employers' various interpretations of guidelines might make them more vulnerable to employee workplace drug testing lawsuits.
Private-sector employers with Federal contracts or grants, might be obligated to follow the Model Plan for a Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace Program or guidelines established by the agencies through which they have contracts or grants.
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