The majority of employers in the U.S. have developed drug-free workplace programs. Information relating to such a policy may be covered during your interview, your orientation, or in an employee handbook. You should take the time to understand the rules set by your employer, since workplace drug testing and policies are not consistent across the country and may even differ by company.
Which Substance Abuse Laws Concern Me?
Depending on where you work, rules governing drug-free workplace programs vary. Some states have laws concerning where, when, and how your employer can regulate drugs at work. For example, the California Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1990 mandates all state-related contractors to implement a drug-free workplace policy and to advocate an employee drug awareness education program. Additionally, in California, if you are terminated due to consistently missing work, you may be barred from receiving unemployment compensation benefits if you were absent due to:
- Arriving at work intoxicated;
- Using intoxicants while at work; or
- Grossly neglecting your work duties while intoxicated.
If you have questions concerning the legality of your employer¿s drug policy, an employment lawyer will be able to discuss with you the regulations that exist in your state.
What Is The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988?
If your employer has received a contract or grant from a federal agency, it is likely that the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 affects you. The Act requires businesses working with federal agencies to provide drug-free workplaces as a condition of the award. As long as you are on the payroll and you work on a grant-covered activity, you are subject to the Act. Therefore, temporary employees are covered under the Act, although volunteers are not (since they are not on the payroll).
What Should I Do If I Have Been Accused of Workplace Substance Abuse?
In addition to learning about your legal rights, you may consider contacting a substance abuse organization, such as:
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA);
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA);
- The Focus on Recovery Helpline; or
- The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hopeline.
Do I Need an Employment Lawyer?
Because the laws concerning workplace substance abuse are complicated and vary by region, talking about your individual concerns and questions with an employment attorney may be extremely helpful. You should consider meeting with a lawyer if you have been accused of drug use at work or if you are disturbed by the drug-related policies your employer has adopted.