Because drug abuse is a widespread societal problem, it’s also a workplace problem. However, the options employers have to deal with the problem are constrained by the privacy rights of employees under federal and state laws.
The federal laws that most affect the issue are the Drug-Free Workplace Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. There are many state laws — and even some local ordinances — that can affect how an employer may discover drug abuse and treat drug-abusing employees.
The Drug-Free Workplace Act requires businesses holding government contracts of $25,000 or more — as well as institutions that receive federal grants or other forms of federal assistance — to establish drug education and awareness programs for their workers in an effort to maintain a drug-free workplace. To comply with the act, employers must take steps that include:
- Gіvіng employees notice that the company prohibits possession, use and distribution of illegal drugs in the workplace and spell out specific disciplinary actions that will be taken against those who violate that rule.
- Educating employees about the dangers of drug use in the workplace.
- Making information on counseling and rehabilitation available to employees with drug problems.
- Gіvіng each employee a copy of the drug-free policy and requiring them to agree to abide by the policy.
The act does not, however, require any testing for drugs, but various court cases that have been filed challenging drug testing of employees provide some guidelines.
Where the employee is in a safety-sensitive position, such as a driver or a security guard, courts have generally held that an employer’s drug testing program is reasonable. Drug testing of current employees not in safety-sensitive positions can be more problematic.
Any positive results should always be confirmed with a second test and reviewed by a medical review officer. Results of all tests and any other medical information must be kept confidential.
Need guidance on implementing or maintaining a drug-free workplace policy? Contact Kellie with Alternative HR at 717-855-5589 or firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
About Kellie Boysen – Owner, Alternative HR:
Kellie Boysen is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) with more than a decade of HR experience. She owns Alternative HR, a local human resource consulting and outsourcing organization that is dedicated to providing small business owners with an affordable alternative to hiring a full-time HR professional.