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.
Can an employer conduct reasonable suspicion drug testing?
Yes, in almost every U.S. jurisdiction an employer can ask workers who appear to be impaired or otherwise in violation of the employer’s drug and alcohol testing policy to submit to a reasonable suspicion drug test. Even in jurisdictions that authorize the use of marijuana and marijuana products for medical or recreational reasons, the laws permit employers to discipline workers who come to work impaired.
It’s recommended to have distributed a written policy describing your drug and alcohol policies for workers and ensure your managers and human resources professionals are aware of state variations in drug testing procedures if you have multistate operations.
You don’t have to be an expert on substance abuse to make a reasonable suspicion determination. You’re looking, instead, for behavior that is out of the ordinary and concerning for that employee. If the employee’s explanation for what you are observing just does not make sense, a drug test is one means of trying to understand what is going on.
If the employee admits he or she is going to test positive, consider whether you need to get a test done or can act on the basis of the admission the employee has made.
Generally speaking, if someone admits that they have acted in violation of your policy, you don’t need a test result to take action.
Reasonable suspicion can be a useful tool in addressing perceived impairment or drug and alcohol policy violations. If an employee seems impaired or is suspected of otherwise violating your drug and alcohol policy, a request for test is a reasonable means to gather additional information as you formulate a response.