Philadelphia Employment Law News

When Can You Be Drug Tested at Work in Pa.?

When can you be drug tested at work in Pennsylvania? The answer may not be as obvious as you think.

Chances are, as an employee or an employer, you'll run into a situation that calls for drug testing in the workplace. So, with that in mind, here's a rundown of what drug testing looks like in Pennsylvania:

Federal or Drug Testing Law

There is actually no federal law that directly requires drug testing for all employees before starting at a position. However, the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires that any employers who receive federal grants or contracts must ensure that their employees are drug-free, or else risk losing their funding. This makes drug testing practically mandatory when it comes to certain federal employees.

Pennsylvania's Drug Testing Law?

What about private employees and public, non-federal employees working in Pennsylvania? Pennsylvania actually does not have a general drug testing law. However, employees who feel as though their privacy or other rights have been violated through a drug test may have some recourse through state statutory provisions and general common law public policy exceptions.

Those aside, here is a general rundown of when drug tests are legal:

  • Pre-employment testing. Pre-employment drug testing is one of the most common ways that drug testing is used in the workplace. Chances are, a drug test will be a part of the typical, legal protocol in a Pennsylvania hiring process. These tests are usually valid, unless for some reason the employee feels as though the test was discriminatory or unreliable techniques were used.
  • Required or related to work. Aside from just general pre-employment drug testing, drug testing can actually be required for certain professions. For example, transportation employees (those who operate motor carriers such as trucks or buses), according to the federal Department of Transportation, are required to have negative drug test results before they begin work.
  • Legitimate reasons. Otherwise known as "reasonable suspicion" testing, courts have generally upheld drug testing in situations when employers have specific, objective evidence of drug or alcohol use by an employee. This evidence includes things like alcohol-smelling breath, bloodshot red eyes, slurred speech, or unexplained lapses in performance.

Because Pennsylvania does not have any general drug testing law, the matter may just really depend on your circumstances. If you have an issue or questions regarding drug testing in the workplace, an experienced employment lawyer can help.

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