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Drug Testing Goes to Court

NCJ Number
Security Management Volume: 31 Issue: 9 Dated: (September 1987) Pages: 76-82
R T Angarola
Date Published
7 pages
Claims that employee drug testing violates rights to privacy, freedom from unreasonable searches, or due process apply only to government agencies; some other objections, however, also apply to testing performed by the private sector.
Negligence claims can be brought against private companies for hiring a substance-abusing employee who harms another employee or for failing to conduct screening with due care. In addition, employers may be liable for libel and slander suits for spreading reports of untrue positive results. Employers also must ensure that their drug policy complies with employment or union contracts. While the Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protect drug abusers and alcoholics from employment discrimination, they do so only if the employee's job performance is not impaired and if there is no risk to property or safety of others. In general, companies should be able to avoid legal challenges of their testing program and policy by documenting the relationship between job performance and substance abuse, developing a specific drug policy and informing employees of it, testing with care, and maintaining confidentiality. Establishing an employee assistance program also could be considered.