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Employee Privacy Rights v. Business Needs: Drug Testing in the Workplace

NCJ Number
New England Law Review Volume: 22 Issue: 2-3 Dated: (December 1987) Pages: 413-451
L M Farmer
Date Published
39 pages
This article discusses the status of private-sector drug screening policies and the special problems these policies raise for those who are employees-at-will.
As the number of private-sector drug screening programs increase, the potential for unreasonable invasions of employees' privacy also multiply. Additionally, employees who refuse to cooperate with drug screening policies fear they may lose their jobs. The degree to which refusal to cooperate jeopardizes an employee's job may depend on whether employment is union, public, or at will. Job applicants, absent statutory restraints, enjoy no protection against drug screening. Unions have not negotiated for protection against pre-employment screening. On the other hand, courts have not looked with favor on random testing of unionized or private-sector employees unless the testing was related to hazardous work. Central to employment drug testing is the need to balance the employee's right to privacy against the employer's need to provide a safe and productive work environment. The courts must be alert to the invasion of employees' privacy interests by invasive employer testing and screening. If they do not act to protect the employees' interests, then State legislatures must be called on to do so. 273 footnotes.


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