Although drug testing of employees is allowed in California, it may be justified only in very limited and strictly defined circumstances.
Pre-employment Testing- In California an employer may require a drug test as a condition of employment after a job offer is given but before the employee goes on payroll.
Random Drug Testing - Employers in California cannot require employees to submit to random drug testing, except under certain narrowly defined circumstances. Consult legal counsel before you institute a policy of random drug testing.
Reasonable Suspicion Testing- Testing of employees after a serious accident is permissible in California; however, it’s important to follow a few simple guidelines to ensure fairness:
- Follow the company drug testing policy to the letter. Make sure the procedures spell out when testing will occur, when employees will be terminated or allowed to return to work following positive test results, and the consequences of refusing to take a test. Remember to always apply the policy consistently to all employees.
- Have testing decisions reviewed. To ensure decisions to drug test particular workers are thorough and consistent, it is best practice to have someone in senior management who is familiar with company policy and laws concerning drug testing review every decision before the testing takes place.
- Document the justification for testing. Before testing an employee, carefully describe the reasons and the circumstances for the testing in detail. For example, if testing is based on suspicion that the person was impaired by drugs or alcohol, carefully document and specify the signs of intoxication that were observed.
As controversy over the acceptable use of drug testing continues, it’s more critical than ever to review and update your policies and procedures to make sure they pass legal muster.