There is a lot of curiosity and of course some apprehension about laws regarding drug testing conducted before employment these days, since majority of the employers have incorporated pre-employment drug tests as a part of recruitment procedure.
Drug abuse has been a growing concern these days and employers not only in the US, but also across the globe, are concerned about promoting drug free, safe work environment to the employees. US labor department has stated that nearly, a whopping $100 billion have to be incurred every year in total by employers in the US, due to drug abuse at workplace. It is associated with health emergency, compensation and loss of work. There are certain laws, which employers and employees should abide by, during employee background checks. Let’s cast a quick glance at some of the facts related to the process.
Laws for Employers
The laws regarding drug testing vary from state to state. Every state has its own laws regulating testing in the workplace or for testing before employment. Usually, it is allowed on the condition that applicants are informed by the company that drug test is a part of recruitment process and is mandatory for all candidates. Most often, pre-employment notification is mentioned on the application to be signed by the applicant. Sometimes, a candidate is provided with a separate notification document during first interview. Some states require employers to give conditional offer letters, which state that the offer remains valid only on passing the drug test with negative result.
Applicant’s consent is a must for any drug test conducted by employer. If the employer conducts any kind of drug test without applicant’s consent, it can pose severe legal problems on the employer. For example, gathering a hair sample for drug test for drug addiction without the consent of an employee is illegal. Most employers have a policy or a notification, which the employee should be made aware of, during recruitment process. It mentions that refusal to the drug testing by applicant will be considered as positive result of the test and the company deserves right to apply same criterion, as it would, for a candidate who has tested positive.
Ephedrine products or Ibuprofen can affect drug test results. The applicant is supposed to inform about any medications taken prior to drug test, since, if the medication has affected the drug test, the company will retest the samples and eventually applicant will be tested positive. Applicant is expected to furnish doctor’s prescription for authentic use of prescription medication. The discrimination based on use of prescription medication for authentic medical purposes can put employer into legal trouble for breach of Americans with Disabilities Act.
US supreme court maintains that demanding for urine sample in presence of other individuals can be considered as invasion of privacy. However, if the employer suspects tampering with sample by the applicant, employer has the right for presence of one person of same-sex at the time of giving the sample. The applicant deserves the right to question the authenticity of result and if desired, may opt for further tests at a lab he/she wishes to.
Methods and the Drugs Tested
The most common methods include urine test, since it is minimally invasive and reliable. Urine sample of applicant is sent to lab, which gives results within a day or two. Other methods include hair drug test, blood test, saliva test and breath test. ‘Five screen’, also termed as Five Panel Test checks for drugs like PCP, cocaine, opiates like codeine, morphine, amphetamines and heroin, and marijuana.
Sometimes ‘Ten Screen Test’ to detect drugs like Benzodiazepines, Methadone, Methaqualone and Barbiturates can also be done to detect legal usage. Usually, most of the drugs remain in the body for a period between 2-4 days. Interesting fact about hair drug test is that hair sample test can detect drugs such as PCP for a period of 90 days.
This was about the laws and methods. The most important thing to remember is, ‘the best way to pass a drug test is by refraining from drugs and staying clean’. I believe you have got some helpful information on drug testing.