Unemployment and Drug Test Laws

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 Can My Employer Make Me Take a Drug Test?

It is possible for an employer to force an employee to undergo a drug test as a condition of their employment. However, the employer must abide by all state and federal employee drug testing laws in order to do so. For example, the laws in certain states permit employers to implement a random drug testing policy in the workplace.

Briefly, a random drug testing policy refers to when an employer selects nonspecific employees to take a drug test throughout the course of their employment. Random drug testing policies may not target individual workers and must apply to all workers equally.

In such cases, a worker may agree to submit to random drug tests in exchange for keeping their job. Workers who accept an offer and refuse to get drug tested may be terminated or face other consequences.

Another popular drug testing policy that is frequently used and considered to be legal under most employment laws is requiring prospective job candidates to be screened for drugs before they are officially hired. The rationale behind these laws is that a job candidate is free to look elsewhere for a position and that an employer has a right to maintain a drug-free work environment.

One other scenario in which an employer may be legally permitted to force a worker to take a drug test is if they possess a reasonable suspicion that a worker is either doing drugs on the job or their drug habit is affecting their work performance.

On the other hand, an employer cannot force a worker to take a drug test after being injured in a work or job-related incident. The reason for this is because the drug test could potentially affect a worker’s claim for workers’ compensation. An employer also cannot make a worker take a drug test for any reason that is based on a discriminatory motive.

To learn more about the employee drug testing laws in your state and when an employer may be able to request that you take a drug test, you should speak to a local employment law attorney immediately for further legal guidance.

Can I Be Fired for Failing a Drug Test?

An employee can absolutely be fired from work for failing a drug test. Some other failed drug test consequences may include the following:

  • Not receiving a promotion or raise for failing a drug test;
  • Being denied unemployment benefits for failing a drug test;
  • Being denied a job offer for failing a drug test; and
  • Various other reasons that may be determined by reviewing state drug testing laws and company policies.

However, an employee may be able to challenge a termination if they were not given advance notice of a drug test, believe the results of the drug test were wrong, or think that the drug test was not properly administered or reviewed. Employees also have a right to privacy over the results of a drug test. Thus, an employer may not share such results with other employees or third parties.

If I Am Fired for Failing a Drug Test, Can I Collect Unemployment?

Whether or not you can get unemployment if you fail a drug test will ultimately depend on state law. For example, some state laws will completely bar terminated workers from collecting unemployment benefits, whereas the laws in other states may only make it more difficult to acquire them.

In some cases, an employer’s unemployment policies and/or the terms of a worker’s employment contract may also potentially affect an employee’s ability to collect unemployment benefits as well. For instance, a worker may be prohibited from collecting unemployment benefits for failing a drug test if it violated a condition of an employer’s work safety policies.

Another issue that may arise in connection with failing a drug test and being able to collect unemployment is if a worker was not paid the requisite amount of wages to be able to apply for a state’s unemployment benefits program. The same may hold true for employees who did not work for a company for the necessary period of time required by their state’s unemployment benefits laws.

In addition, an employee may be disqualified from collecting unemployment benefits if they are fired for failing a drug test when it falls under a state’s definition or an employer’s company policy of an act that constitutes misconduct. Generally speaking, employees who are fired for acts that constitute misconduct, such as failing an alcohol or drug test, may be prohibited from collecting unemployment benefits entirely or for a particular period of time.

What Should I Do If I Am Denied Unemployment Benefits as a Result of Termination Based on a Failed Drug Test?

There are a couple of options that a worker may have in the event that they are denied unemployment benefits as a result of termination based on a failed drug test. The first step they should take, however, is to make sure that they have filed an appeal against the initial decision. A worker can do this by submitting any necessary forms and all other documents that would support their claim within their state’s prescribed time frame.

If this step has been completed and a worker is still being denied their claim for unemployment benefits, then they may be able to submit a request to plead their case before a state board during an administrative hearing.

It is important to note that the requirements for any state filing procedures or hearings will differ in accordance with state law. Thus, a worker should consider hiring a local employment law attorney for assistance with obtaining unemployment benefits. An attorney can discuss why a claim may have been denied and can amend a worker’s original filing for an appeal. An attorney can also advocate on behalf of a worker at an administrative hearing for benefits.

Should I Hire a Lawyer?

The laws on collecting unemployment and drug testing in the workplace can often vary from state to state. This can make it difficult for a worker to determine the steps they must take in order to file a wrongful termination action against an employer or to request that they be reinstated to their job.

Even in states where these laws are clear or the issues in a worker’s case are straightforward, consulting a local employment lawyer for guidance can still prove to be beneficial. An experienced employment lawyer can offer legal advice on complex procedures and any unclear laws in your state.

Your lawyer will be able to help you draft the legal documents necessary to file such a claim in court as well as can discuss the potential legal remedies you may recover if you prevail in the lawsuit. Your lawyer will also be able to recommend other avenues of legal recourse if you would prefer not to go to trial or if they feel your case is weak.

In addition, your lawyer will be able to provide legal representation both at settlement conferences and in court proceedings. Lastly, if any other related legal issues should arise that need to be added to your lawsuit, your lawyer will be able to identify them and can argue on your behalf as to why they should be addressed during the current lawsuit as well.

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