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Employee Drug Testing

Frequently Asked Questions

What Shows Up in a Urine Test?

Urine tests can detect a variety of drugs,  legal and illegal including: alcohol amphetamines barbiturates benzodiazepines cocaine marijuana methamphetamine opioids phencyclidine (PCP) steroids

How Long Do Urine Tests Take?

Negative results are usually received within 24 hours; however, a non-negative screen will require further testing that may take from a few days to a week.

Can You Still Get Hired if you Fail a Drug Test?

It is highly unlikely that you will get hired having failed a pre-employment drug test. In many cases, job candidates who fail drug tests and who lack legitimate prescriptions for the substance(s) found, will simply be told that they've failed and that they're no longer eligible for the employment opportunity. In some cases, they may be able to reapply at the company after six months or a year.

What do Employers Look for in a Drug Test?

Typical drugs screened in a urine drug test include marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines and methamphetamines, PCP, opiates, with the option for employers to test for many additional substances.

Can an Employer Test an Employee for Drugs?

If an employer seeks to test its employees and job applicants for illegal drugs, it must comply with federal, state and local applicable laws. Federal laws in this area are usually limited to certain highly regulated industries, such as transportation and military contracting. When can employers test job applicants for drugs? Most employers in the private sector are allowed to test applicants for drug use before they are hired if: They have provided notice that drug testing is part of the application process; They have already offered the applicant the job contingent on passing a drug test; All applicants are tested (no discrimination is applied); and A state-certified lab administers the test. Drug testing in some industries is highly regulated, such as in transportation.  Regulations for how and when testing is allowed vary from state to state.

When do Employers Drug Test New Hires? 

Many companies require potential employees to undergo a drug test before finalizing the job offer. So, testing would be after the interview process.

Can an Employer Fire an Employee for Drug Use?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer can terminate an employee: if they are using drugs or alcohol on the job, if substance use impacts job performance or productivity, or if substance use creates unsafe conditions on the job. Employers cannot, however, terminate an employee merely for an addiction.

What Can an Employer Do if an Employee is Suspected of Being on Drugs?

An employer can require an employee to take a drug test if the employer has a reasonable suspicion of employee drug use, provided the employer follows federal, state and local laws for doing so. If the test comes back positive, an employer may, depending on state law, be able to terminate or discipline the employee for cause.

Can an Employer Fire an Employee for Failing a Drug Test?

The potential consequences of a failed drug test vary from company-to-company and state-to-state based on an employer’s drug policy and on applicable state laws. For example, companies that have a “zero-tolerance” drug policy may terminate an employee for failing a drug test. That termination may occur for no other reason than that the drug test shows evidence of drug use - regardless of whether the employee shows any effects of the drug at work and is otherwise fit for duty. Other government-regulated workplaces must adhere to the Drug-free Workplace Act of 1988 if they receive any type of federal grant or federal contracts of $100,000 or more.

What are the Requirements of the Drug Free Workplace Act?

The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 (41 U.S.C. 81) is a federal law which requires some federal contractors and all federal grantees to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a precondition of receiving a contract or grant from a Federal agency.[1] Although all covered contractors and grantees must maintain a drug-free workplace, the specific components necessary to meet the requirements of the Act vary based on whether the contractor or grantee is an individual or an organization. The requirements for organizations are more extensive because organizations have to take comprehensive, programmatic steps to achieve a workplace free of drugs.[1]

Can an Employer Ask an Employee if They are on Drugs?

For the vast majority of positions, employers may not ask job applicants about prescription drug use prior to making an offer of employment. With regard to illegal drugs, employees may screen job applicants by testing them for drug use, provided the testing is made known to the applicant as part of the hiring process.

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