Drug Testing at Work: Legal Or Illegal?

Drugs have been a worldwide problem, and more and more people are getting into it. That is why some companies have decided to include drug testing as prerequisites to job applicants. For them to get the job, they have to undergo laboratory drug tests that determine the presence of drugs in their system.

What jobs require drug testing?

  • Restaurant staff
  • Pizza delivery boy
  • Fast food crew
  • Hardware Merchandiser

Is drug testing in the workplace legal?

  • Local and government have laws that do not require or only limits drug testing among its employees, except for jobs that require the drug test based on the state or Federal regulations.
  •  Federal agencies should abide by the standardized procedures created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Private companies, on the other hand, are not required to follow these procedures, but still, do to make it legally safe.
  • The present law in the private sector has allowed non-union companies to require new applicants and current employees to test for drugs, but should do so legally, with the presence of a legal adviser, to ensure that all was done based on state or local laws.

These procedures are based on SAMHSA’S guidelines to be followed by companies to make sure the drug testing was valid and accurate:

Chain of Custody

This procedure is used to document the proper handling and storage of the laboratory samples from the time it was collected until the time of disposal. It is a written record of all that happens to the sample while in the collection site and laboratory.

Initial screen

Initial screening is the first analysis done on the sample. A second confirmatory test is made to ensure its accuracy because initial screenings usually are not reliable and yield a false-negative result.

Confirmation test

Another testing is done through gas chromatography or mass spectrometry to rule out false-negative results that were a result in the initial screening. The initial testing and the confirmatory tests should be similar to conclude a positive result.

Split sample

This happens when a urine specimen is divided into two. One sample goes under initial screening and when it yields a positive result, the second urine specimen then undergoes the confirmation test. If it remains a positive result, the applicant may suggest retaking the test in another laboratory.

Is failing a drug test illegal?

Failing a drug test is not illegal unless you are under probation. Private individuals who are applying for a job and fails the test probably won’t get the job though, but the results will be kept confidential because the dissemination of such information would be illegal.

Random drug testing laws

State laws give employers the right to test their employees, whether a new applicant or a current employee. The employer should adhere to the rules provided by the state law to avoid discrimination.

State laws allow drug testing for new applicants only if:

  1. The applicant should know about the testing before taking it. The information should be provided in the job postings, that they require drug testing for all applicants.
  2. If the employer has already given the job to the applicant.
  3. All new applicants are tested much the same.
  4. The tests are to be administered by a laboratory certified by the state.

When it comes to other private companies, there are some legal constraints regarding drug testing laws. The company cannot perform drug tests on all its employees but should focus on an individual who has an impaired performance at work. Those who do their jobs distractedly, or those that doze off at work and incoherent can be subject to such drug tests.

Specimens that can be used for drug testing:


This is the most commonly used specimen. It shows the absence or presence of drug metabolites which can become residues in the urine even the effects have already worn off. If an alcohol test is to be conducted, the person should submit a specimen as soon as possible because alcohol passes through the body quickly compared to the use of illicit drugs which can stay in the system after a few days.


A breath-alcohol test is a quickest and accurate way to know how much alcohol level is in the blood. The Blood Alcohol Concentration determines the level of alcohol present in the blood at the time it was done.


Blood samples make an accurate measurement of the drugs that are present in the person’s blood at the time the specimen is collected. It is also the best way to determine the cause of death due to intoxication.


Hair can give a drug history that dates back 90 days before the test. It only provides information on the use of a specific drug from long ago and not the ones currently used. This specimen cannot be used in alcohol testing.

Saliva and other oral fluids

A cheek smear is usually taken to detect the presence of both illicit drugs and alcohol. This method is hard to cheat on therefore it is one of the most reliable ways.


A skin patch is used to determine how much drugs are present in the sweat. A bandage-like patch is placed on the skin and worn by the user for a period. This has not been used in workplaces but is common in people with parole for monitoring purposes.

The only way to get through a drug test, if you are a drug user and you are about to get yourself tested for drugs, is to use detox kits. They safely cleanse the body of the illicit drugs that you have been taking without the side effects. Companies, in order to flourish, must employ people who work hard and are drug-free too. That’s pretty understandable, right? So, it is best if you stop taking it and continue not to in the future. If you can’t, make sure you know how to clean your system before you get caught. Better be safe than sorry, as always.

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