Is My Employer Allowed to Require Drug and Alcohol Testing?

Federal law requires drug testing in certain industries. Department of Defense employees, NASA contractors, transportation workers, and aviators, for example, are required to submit to drug testing. Beyond this, federal law takes a largely hands-off approach to drug testing. State law is different. If you have concerns that your legal rights may have been violated, consider talking to an attorney about the labor laws that may apply to you.

Drug Testing of Job Applicants

Under California law, only “suspicionless” drug testing is allowed for non-employee job applicants. This means that a prospective employer is not allowed to require a job applicant to take a drug test on suspicion of drug use. The employer is, however, allowed to require all applicants for a particular position to take a drug test as a condition of employment. Courts will generally find in favor of the job applicant if the employer is found to have used drug testing in a discriminatory manner. For example, an employer cannot only require minority applicants to be drug tested, and not require testing of non-minority applicants.

Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana

The state’s “compassionate use” law protects Californians’ right to use marijuana for documented medical purposes, provided they have written authorization from a doctor. Although patients who lawfully use medical marijuana are protected from prosecution by the state, the California Supreme Court has established a legal precedent allowing employers to reject applicants who test positive for marijuana—even if that applicant has a lawful prescription.

Drug Testing of Employees

California courts do not generally support the random drug testing of individuals who are already employees. Exceptions may be made for job positions that require strict adherence to safety protocols. However, employers may be lawfully allowed to drug test employees if they have a reasonable suspicion of drug use. For instance, an employee’s negligence may have caused a workplace accident, which might raise suspicions of drug use.

When you become a client of The Law Offices of Jon Webster, you can expect effective legal services and courteous attention. Our law office in Concord, CA offers Spanish-speaking services, complimentary phone consultations, and licensed representation in four states. You can reach us at (925) 609-7600.

Categories: Business Law


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