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Can My Employer Subject Me to Random Drug Tests?

It is understandable that some employers need to perform random drug tests in the interest of protecting company safety. However, requiring employees to submit to random drug tests can involve different laws and regulations and raise issues regarding fair notice, accuracy, and discrimination. If your current or potential employer requires you to submit to a drug test, it is important to understand your rights. Alabama’s drug testing statute applies to every type of employer.

What Are Your Rights as a Job Applicant?

Most states have laws that permit employers to require applicants for open positions to submit to drug testing. In Alabama, applicants must be given notice of the drug-testing policy of the company and the testing is only allowed after a conditional job offer has been made. All employers must take steps to ensure that test results are accurate, and the policies are followed uniformly so that there is no discrimination. That means employers cannot target applicants based on race, disability or any other characteristics that are protected by federal antidiscrimination laws.

What Are Your Rights as an Employee?

When it comes to random drug testing of employees, there are a few additional legal concerns. Some states do not allow blanket drug testing of every employee. Some only allow testing when there is reasonable suspicion. For this reason, it is critical that you find out what the law is for the state where you work. In Alabama, random drug testing and testing based on reasonable suspicion are both allowed. Drug testing of employees is also allowed as part of a required fitnessfor-duty exam, after a job-related injury, and as a follow-up after an employee attends a rehabilitation program.

Conditions That Must be Met in by Alabama Employers

One initial requirement for drug testing by Alabama employers is that they must provide employees with notice of the testing policy at least sixty (60) days for a drug test is administered. The company’s drug testing policy must also be conspicuously posted at the workplace. Also, any positive drug test result must be confirmed with a second test. Employees who test positive must also be allowed the opportunity to challenge the result or explain why the test may have been positive within five (5) days of receiving the positive result.

How is “Reasonable Suspicion” Defined?

When employers decide to test an employee for drugs based on reasonable suspicion, it must be based on objective facts as opposed to assumptions or stereotypes. Here are some examples of situations where suspicion may be reasonable:

  • Witnessing direct drug use or the physical symptoms of such use
  • Reliable information that drug use resulted in an accident at work
  • Abnormal or erratic behavior in the workplace along with decreased job performance
  • Evidence of drug test tampering
  • Evidence of the possession, sale or use of drugs in the workplace

These examples are not an exhaustive list. If you have questions about whether your employer’s stated reason for requiring you to submit a drug test is reasonable, consult with your Birmingham employment attorney.

Common Bases for Drug Testing Lawsuits

Unfair or discriminatory drug testing policies or practices by employers can be the basis for a lawsuit, depending on the facts and the applicable laws. If you believe you were singled out for testing or if certain groups of employees are routinely tested based on their race or gender, that could constitute illegal discrimination. Publicizing the results of an employee’s drug test is an illegal invasion of the employee’s privacy.

Terminating an employee with a disability can also be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employers and employees must consider that certain medications may result in failed drug tests because those medications may show up on a drug test, yet not be an illegal substance.

If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced Birmingham employment law attorneys at Wrady & Michel, LLC. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880. We are here to serve you!