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When is workplace drug testing discriminatory?

New Jersey actually gives employers a lot of latitude when it comes to workplace drug testing — more so than many other states. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s “anything goes” where drug testing is concerned.

What rules regarding drug testing do employers have to follow?

In general, employers are required to observe the following rules when they drug test employees:

  • Employees must be notified of drug-testing policies in advance.
  • The selection method used to pick employees for testing must be explained.
  • The least intrusive testing methods should be used.
  • An employee’s privacy must be respected and the results kept confidential.
  • Employees must be warned about any possible “lingering effects” of drugs
  • Employees must be told how their biological samples will be analyzed.
  • Employees must get advance notification of the consequences of testing positive.

If employees aren’t afforded these rights, they may have a right to pursue civil action against an employer for drug testing.

What might constitute discriminatory practices in employee drug testing?

Above all else, employers must treat all their employees fairly when it comes to drug testing. Here are some examples of practices that might be discriminatory:

  • You are singled out for drug testing after getting into an argument with a supervisor.
  • Employees of color seem to be pulled disproportionately often for drug testing, despite a supposedly “random” testing.
  • You have a disability that requires you to take a legal prescription drug that causes you to fail the drug test — and are fired anyhow.

It’s important to understand that medical marijuana, while growing in national acceptance, is still not legal under federal law. Employers can terminate an employee for the use of medical marijuana. However, the use of other legal drugs, including some opiates, may be protected.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against through workplace drug testing, it’s important to find out more about your legal rights. You may be able to pursue a civil case against your employer if your claims are valid.



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