What is the result of testing positive in a workplace drug test? The answer depends upon the policies or guidelines used by the employer regarding drug testing as well as legal provisions. Testing positive in a workplace drug test might lead to termination of employment or being denied promotions by the employer. You may find it difficult to get another job. However, if you test positive after getting injured or have other just reasons for testing positive, you can stop your employer from laying you off or from denying you disability benefits, promotions or worker’s compensation, depending upon the laws regarding drug testing. The laws for drug testing differ from one state to another. The Federal law indicates that treatment and rehabilitation be given to a person testing positive rather than punishment. Some employers and laws govern that an employee’s service be terminated if he tests positive for drugs, which can be called a ‘zero-tolerance policy’. However, this may not be the case with all employers and all states. If you test positive in a workplace drug test, the employer might ask you to leave the job or, alternatively, offer you a drug rehabilitation program or ask you to get rehabilitation by yourself. Such treatment programs are for the benefit of the employee as well as the employer. Laying off an employee involves a lot of expenditure on the part of the employer such as hiring replacements and training them. A treatment program proves to be much cheaper for the employer. Moreover, such employees are more dedicated and grateful towards the organization. However, you have to accept a treatment program if it is suggested to you, even if you are not a regular drug user and not in actual need of treatment. Otherwise, the employer may terminate your service. Whether you are eligible to get time off from work for treatment or pay for the period of absence depends upon the policy of the company.
Do I have the right to deny workplace drug testing?
You have the right to deny drug testing at the workplace if you do not want to get tested. However, this would amount to the same consequences as testing positive in a drug test. You are considered to be guilty unless it is proven wrong by way of a drug test. You may also be terminated from service in this case and may find it difficult to obtain employment elsewhere.
Can I get arrested if I test positive in a drug test?
The laws governing drug testing are different in different states and in different organizations. Normally, testing positive in a workplace drug test does not amount to imprisonment. There are several differences of opinion regarding invasion of the privacy of employees and the accuracy of the methods used for drug testing. Moreover, there is the question of proof. Testing positive does not necessarily mean that you are a regular drug user. There is also the fact that the Federal Government encourages treatment programs for the employees who test positive rather than imprisonment. However, if you are found using drugs at your place of work or carrying drugs on you, you may lose your job in case the employer reports this incident to the police.
Can I sue if I feel my rights are being violated?
There have been several lawsuits filed against drug testing at the workplace, maintaining that this amounts to violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Many of these lawsuits are pending. In certain cases, even employees who have tested positive in such drug tests have won in the court of law. Some of these victories depended on the fact that the organization did not follow the guidelines for workplace drug testing. A few legal guidelines relating to workplace drug testing are:
- Not taking very strict action against employees who are found guilty for the first time.
- Not requiring the employees who tested positive pay for carrying out the test.
- Allowing workplace drug testing only in those jobs in which public safety depends on the employees’ sobriety.
- Disallow drug testing at random.
There have been many such lawsuits in which the employees lost. Hence the chance of the employee winning or losing the lawsuit depends upon the situation at that time. In short, if an employee does not wish to undertake drug testing or tests positive and is required to undertake treatment, he can sue his employer in the court of law. It is advisable to take the advice of a lawyer in this regard.