When Can My Employer Drug Test Me?

As an employee at your workplace, you have certain privacy and personal rights, but your employer also has certain rights when it comes to ensuring the safety of the workplace. Many employees and job applicants will be required to take a drug test at some point in their careers. Your employer will want to deter employees from drug use because it may cause a decrease in productivity and absences from the job itself. However, it’s important for you to know when an employer is legally allowed to ask you for a drug test.

When Can My Employer Give Me a Drug Test?

Many private employers will ask new hires to take and pass a drug test as a specific employment condition. As a prospective employee, you do have the right to decline a drug test, but this refusal will usually result in you having to give up the job offer. Drug testing before employment doesn’t have to be evaluated due to safety or other job concerns beyond the need for a drug-free work environment.

In California, an employer must test all potential applicants for drug screenings and cannot single out specific applicants based on certain characteristics such as race or disability. The state follows a “compassionate use” law, which permits state citizens to use marijuana for medical purposes. However, California’s Supreme Court has ruled that an employer can refuse to hire a potential employee who tests positive for marijuana, even if he or she has a legal prescription for a disability.

During employment, there must be a balance between the California employer’s reason for the drug test and the employee’s actual expectation of privacy. If an employer has reasonable suspicion that an employee is taking drugs, there can be a legal reason for testing if he or she has objective facts to support the reasoning. Random testing has always been debated and is controversial.

If you believe that you have been wrongly drug tested by your employer, you could potentially sue based on discrimination claims, invasion of legitimate privacy or defamation. Contact a Los Angeles employment attorney today for a free consultation and more information.

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