Do’s And Don’t Of Drug Testing In The Workplace

By Jessica Brinkley posted 02-12-2019 17:39


In an ideal world, employers would never have to worry about drug testing their employees. However, in the modern day and age, the truth is that no matter what industry you are in, you want to ensure that your company is as productive as possible, and this involves making sure that your employees aren’t using drugs. The issue is more important than ever when one considers global drug addiction statistics, as well.

Of course, there are rules and regulations involving drug tests with employees. As an employer, you have the right to make sure that your employees are sober, but of course, it is illegal to discriminate against specific individuals with regards to drug testing.


First and foremost, an employer should determine how seriously they take drugs and/or alcohol with the workplace. While every business should aim for focused and sober employees all working towards common goals - the truth is that there are different safety risks with regards to different occupations. For example, those who work in the U.S. Department of Transportation might be putting all sorts of commuters’ safety and their safety by operating various vehicles. If you are running a retail business, you still want your employees to be sober - but it does not necessarily put your customers’ lives at risk if you are not.

In addition, you should consult with an attorney. Every state has different rules and regulations with regards to drug testing, and you should be 100% familiar with the law in order to proceed. This small amount of time and energy you spend understanding the law might save you massive amounts of money in terms of liability later on. Another great reason to consult an attorney is the fact that state laws change with regards to drug testing, as well.

Also, you should determine what kind of test you will use. For example, if you have reasonable suspicion that an employee (or employees) are getting drunk on the job, you might opt for a breath-test more than a urine test. Of course, this depends on your suspicions and objectives. A urine test is much better to determine whether there are drugs in your employees’ systems. However, other than that, there is no need to overthink. For example, Serhat Pala of Test Country says, “Choosing a drug test doesn’t have to be confusing. There are screening devices that make sense for different industries. I can tell you that saliva drug tests have been gaining in popularity since they require less observation." 


There are all sorts of unfortunate workplace dynamics, but you cannot let your personal opinion or interactions with employees affect the way that your drug test them. For example, if an employee feels that they are being drug tested in retaliation of a certain action or incident - this can open you up to liability. Similarly, if an employee feels that they are being discriminated against for a specific reason - this is an issue, as well. While it is not illegal for you to observe your employees and their behavior - you must ensure that your personal bias is not interfering with the way that you administer drug testing in the workplace. There is no reason why you should be selecting certain employees for drug tests and not others, based on appearance, for example.

If an employee tests positive for drugs; this isn’t the kind of information that should be shared publicly. At the end of the day, there is a real privacy concern with regards to records such as these. Even if your staff is close and you consider your employees your “family”; there is no reason for an employee to know about another employee’s drug test results. This is a definite “don’t” with regards to workplace drug testing.

While this should be obvious, there is no situation where you should be drug testing your employees in a covert manner. For example, this means picking up a stray hair from an employee and testing it. This is completely illegal. This not only violates employment rights, but privacy rights, as well. This is an absolute “don’t” with regards to employee drug testing.