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State Drug Testing Laws
There is no comprehensive federal law that regulates drug testing in the private sector. The Drug-Free Workplace Act does impose certain employee education requirements on companies that do business with the government, but it does require testing, nor does it restrict testing in any way. Drug testing is allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because the ADA does not consider drug abuse a disability -- but the law does not regulate or prohibit testing. Instead of a comprehensive regulatory system, federal law provides for specific agencies to adopt drug testing regulations for employers under their jurisdiction.
The Department of Defense requires defense contractors to set up procedures for identifying drug users, including random testing. The Department of Transportation requires the industries it regulates to conduct random drug and alcohol testing for workers in safety sensitive jobs, as well as testing after accidents and when there is "reasonable suspicion" of employee substance abuse. The federal Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act (OTETA) requires tests for all operators of aircraft, railroad equipment, mass transportation vehicles, and commercial motor vehicles.
As a general rule, testing is presumed to be lawful unless there is a specific restriction in state or federal law. However, the body of law on employee privacy and related issues continues to evolve, and any testing program that is not explicitly authorized by law should be considered open to legal challenge. Of equal importance is the controversial character of employee drug testing in labor management relations and the potential for legal challenges from this quarter.
CLICK HERE FOR A COMPLETE PDF LISTING OF STATE DRUG TESTING LAWS
Reviewed and Revised August 2012