Studying for a Test

Drug Test

I have a job interview. Can they make me take a drug test?

Employers are asking a lot more from candidates than in previous years, partly because more graduates are vying for the same positions. Part of this selection process could enable some kind of screening, and a drug test may be included in that. There may be cases where they would examine you physically, if your eyes look sore or you do not walk properly, and you can then be recommended for a drug test. Refusing it is an option, but it may not be the right one, unless you know that you are suffering from a genuine health problem.

In many cases, taking a drug test may be a condition of actually getting the job, so you may not have a choice if you really want to work there. Throughout your working life, it's likely that you will have to take a test at least once anyway. It could be a lot more if your job depends on total sobriety. The company will have their reasons, and these usually include concerns over the loss of productivity due to absent employees or the negative impacts of drug use in the workplace.

You can refuse to take the test, but it's likely to result in the end of the job offer. The company will draw their own conclusions from your not wanting to cooperate. From a legal standpoint, a pre-employment drug test cannot be justified by safety concerns in the workplace, since you are not actually working there yet.

Federal law does not have much influence on workplace drug testing unless the industry is heavily regulated such as construction, transportation or military. A grey area exists in the law which varies from state to state. Some do regulate employee drug testing, but for job candidates, it can be complex.

Drug testing has attracted the scrutiny of attorneys, explains a legal expert. Imagine if a false positive test resulted in a person receiving unnecessary or potentially risky medical treatment, or being refused a job. Employers are required to follow rules and regulations for drug testing to prevent discrimination and inaccurate samples. You need to be made aware, if you were not already, that the test is part of a screening process.

The drug tests will be administered by a medical professional, and the results should be analyzed by state certified laboratories. You will be obligated to take the test if you previously agreed to it in an interview.

Existing employees have a slightly different set of rules which depend on the state. Many states have made random drug testing or testing of all staff in the workplace legally unacceptable. In order to test an individual, the company must have reasonable suspicion that they are using illicit substances which could pose a danger to themselves or fellow co-workers. Jobs with a high risk of injury such as machine operators, drivers or construction workers would be more susceptible to drug testing.

Some states may deny your unemployment benefits if you have been fired for refusal to take a drug test. Your manager will need to prove that you were a safety risk in the workplace. The choice is yours, but getting the job you want will be a lot easier with a little compliance.

Did you know that the White House drug test is multiple choice? - Rush Limbaugh.

(Suzanne Hite is a former publications editor serving the technology services sector).

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