Some states in the United States have adopted fairly strict regulations around which employers can or cannot use drug tests. However, the Lone Star State has its own set of standards when it comes to drug testing. Common drug testing questions are answered here about Texas drug testing, in particular. This is designed to help employers make sense of the rules and avoid using drug testing in a way that could open them up to liability.
While these FAQs were accurate as of their original publication, the law constantly changes. It is best to consult the latest legislation from the state of Texas and at the federal level if you have detailed questions. This FAQ is not a substitute for legal advice and is not meant to be taken as such. Rather, it should be guidance before you bring your specific questions to a legal professional.
1. Does the State of Texas Allow Drug Tests by Employers?
The state of Texas does allow drug tests by employers and doesn't put restrictions on the right of employers to adopt a drug testing policy. That being said, you do have to have a consistent and fair policy to make drug testing a prudent choice in the workplace. This requirement is less a law and more a good business practice that will help you avoid violating other laws, including laws against:
- Violations of privacy
- Discrimination against protected classes of people
2. What Are Some Reasons Employers Test for Drugs?
Some employers, like government officials or those working on particular government contracts, may be required to certify a drug-free workplace. Other workplaces become unsafe if an employee in a specific role is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which could jeopardize the company. Others choose to create drug testing policies because of the environment or company culture they wish to cultivate.
3. What About Alcohol Testing?
This choice is, like with drug testing, allowed by the state of Texas as part of Texas drug testing policy, but it also needs to be fairly enforced.
4. What are the Qualities of a Good Texas Drug Testing Policy?
Make sure that your employees know what it means to pass or fail a drug test. Describe what contexts would invoke one, such as:
- Noticeable intoxication
- Quarterly or yearly random drug tests.
You want this information very clearly spelled out and enforced the same for all employees to whom the policy applies. You also want to make it clear what the consequences of failing a drug test would be and enforce them equally as well.
5. What If We Want to "Spot Test" Some Employees?
Your policy can be seen as discriminatory if you test some employees but not others without a clearly defined reason. For instance, if you check four employees who have nothing in common in their roles, but not other employees in the same positions, you could be seen as discriminatory. However, if you only test employees who operate machinery and do not test employees who answer phones, this can be acceptable. As long as you clearly explain in the policy that this position is the reason for testing, you can test by role.
6. Should a Failed Drug Test Result in Immediate Termination?
Immediate termination is by no means required, despite it being one recourse when employers see it as a serious infraction. The commitment to seek treatment through rehabilitation or the completion of a probationary period with subsequent drug tests are also options that companies occasionally choose. The state of Texas leaves these consequences mainly in the hands of private employers.
7. In What Ways Can Texas Drug Testing Open Employers to Liability?
You could be creating liability in cases where a protected disability establishes the need for a medication that causes the individual to test positive on a drug test. You'll want to ensure that applicants disclose—preferably before even conducting a drug screening—if they are taking medication. An example of this would be a prescription that will cause them to fail a standard drug test. If this is the case, and they have documentation, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ACA) protects them. Do not deny their job application on account of a positive drug test in such a case.
Ensure that your procedures for obtaining a sample for a drug test do not invade the privacy of the individual. Come up with a procedure that avoids the possibility of falsifying the test without invading the person's privacy.
Given the possibility of false positives, it is best not to publicize any results from failed drug screenings, since such a situation could potentially open one up to defamation lawsuits.
When You Need Answers, CNet Is Your Guide
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