Drug testing is a matter of policy for many companies, but if not handled correctly it can create problems—including legal action being taken against the company. The government wants employees to be tested to ensure public safety, and it is important for companies to know whether or not their employees are using drugs. It is essential that those companies take the proper steps in order to conduct drug screening in a legal and non-invasive way. Following are some essential considerations for companies who want to conduct drug screening.
1. Only Test High Risk Employees
If you feel that an employee has or could cause harm to other employees or the company due to drug use, then get them tested. But do not put employees who are obviously not on drugs through drug screening.
You will need to have reasons that will stand up in court if you were to get sued by an employee for unfair testing’s. For instance, if you hear that someone is using or if you see someone act out of character, then that is a valid reason to get drug screening done.
2. Educate Yourself about the Laws for Illegal Substances in Your State
Learn from your attorney what laws are in place regarding each substance in your state. Following are a couple of guidelines about commonly abused drugs:
Prescription Drugs – The laws about prescriptions drugs vary from state to state. It’s best to learn all you can about prescription drug laws. An employee that you test could claim that you violated their right to privacy, and depending on the situation, convince a jury of that as well.
Illegal Drugs – The use of illegal drugs at work is not legally protected. Use your own judgment when it comes to an employee using illegal drugs. Drug use is usually quite apparent, and the signs of drug abuse are well known and easily recognized.
Alcohol – A good rule is to state that there will be no alcohol abuse at the workplace, and that an intoxicated employee at work is not acceptable. This way, if you see that an employee is intoxicated you will have the ability to obtain a drug test to prove it. If you feel that an employee’s work is being affected because of alcohol consumption, you should have documentation to prove performance is below par.
3. Make Your Expectations Clear
If you clearly communicate your drug screening protocols to your employees at the onset, then you will have some extra backing in court. Make sure that you include your drug screening protocols in your employee handbook, and inform your employees that they can discuss any concerns with you. Make sure that they know exactly how and why drug testing will occur and how it will be enforced. Ensure all employees sign the drug screening policy.
4. Use Approved and Legal Drug Testing Practices.
If testing is carried out by a drug testing facility, choose a facility that has earned approval from your state health agency, as well as the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Always be as detailed as possible to avoid legal action against you. Be sure to maintain the privacy of your employees when performing drug screening. Record the exact reasons why you felt the drug screening was necessary. Remember, you should never distribute employee drug testing records to anyone. If a drug test proves positive, then proceed accordingly as per your company’s policies that you had the employee sign.
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