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Why Is Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Necessary?

By Andrew David Easler, Esq.

We’ve all been there before. You’re interviewing for a new job. The hirer likes your resume and the interview has gone well. However, in the end, the hirer tells you that while they’d love to bring you on board, you have to pass a drug test first. Pre-employment drug and alcohol testing has become incredibly common today, but that’s just one aspect of how widespread it’s become in modern society. Why is it so necessary for today’s workplace?

The Problems with Drug and Alcohol Use on the Job

Once upon a time, it wasn’t unusual for American workers to imbibe on the job. The TV show Mad Men gets that aspect right – it was once commonplace for beer and hard liquor to be present on the job. Today, that’s not the case because we better understand the impact of inebriation and drug use on the workplace as a whole. Drug and alcohol use can:

  • Decrease your ability to concentrate
  • Decrease your ability to perform work duties correctly
  • Increase the chances of an accident on the job
  • Increase the chance of injury stemming from an accident
  • Increase the chance that you will harm someone else in an accident
  • Increase the chance that you’ll suffer from serious health problems in the future
  • These are only a few of the reasons that drug and alcohol testing in the workplace is necessary. It’s even more important in safety-sensitive
  • industries. DOT companies have very stringent rules in place regarding both the use of and testing for drugs and alcohol.

How Is Drug Testing Done?

Most drug and alcohol testing today is done via a urine test. You provide a urine sample to a collection professional who then labels the sample, documents everything, and then delivers the sample to a laboratory. There, the sample is analyzed for specific drugs. DOT company employees are only screened for a few drugs, but non-DOT employees can be screened for an enormous range, and DNA testing can also be done with those samples.

Failing a Drug Test

The specific ramifications that apply to you from failing a drug test will depend on a couple of factors. The most important is the company’s policy regarding drug and alcohol use on the job. The reason for the test will also play a role. If it is only a random drug test, chances are good that the repercussions will be less harsh than if it was due to you being involved in an accident.

The information on this page may have changed since we first published it. We give great legal advice, but this page (and the rest of our site) is for informational use only and is no substitute for actual legal advice. If you’d like to establish an attorney-client relationship, reach out to us and we’ll tell you how we can make it official. Sending us an email or reading this page alone doesn’t mean we represent you.

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