South Carolina Supreme Court Opens Door to Holding Drug-Testing Companies Liable for Negligence

On March 21, 2019, the South Carolina Supreme Court answered a certified question that will impact third-party vendors under contract with South Carolina employers to conduct employee drug testing.  In Shaw v. Psychemedics Corporation, the court held that drug-testing companies conducting tests on South Carolina employees owe a duty of care to those employees.  Under Shaw, an employee may sue a drug testing company for negligence based on the company’s contractual relationship with the employer. 

The court considered a number of factors in reaching this conclusion, including South Carolina public policy, the economic and personal impact of a mishandled drug test on an employee, and the current lack of redress by an employee for the negligent handling of a drug screen.

As a result of Shaw, drug testing companies testing employees in South Carolina should review their processes and procedures to determine vulnerabilities for mistakes in the processing of a drug screen.  Such mistakes are likely to form the basis of an employee’s negligence claim.  Drug-testing companies also should consider additional training of employees in order to demonstrate that they took appropriate steps to assure compliance with state testing requirements. 

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.