Drug tests for jobs

I’ve gathered from a few posts I’ve read, that getting drug tested is a part of getting a job, in the U.S.

Apart from absolutely astounding me, it also has me curious.

When did this begin ?

What are the arguments for doing this ?

Who pays for the testing ?

Who analyses the tests ?

Is it standard for all jobs, or only certain fields (i.e working with pharmaceuticals, involved in classified work)

Are there many types of tests, or are they all urine tests ?

Do companies still hire you if you are positive for certain drugs, or is it an instant good-bye ?

What drugs are they testing for ?

Thanks in advance for any info. :slight_smile:

It is a part of getting some jobs in the US. Generally things like police officers, firefighters, and people who will operate heavy machinery. For private businesses, it is up to them and their insurance companies if they want to do drug tests. It is not very common at all.

I dunno when it began - I suppose when companies started realizing that having stoned people on staff could be dangerous. In the private sector, the testing is generally paid for by the corporation and the justification is that they don’t want druggies doing potentially dangerous jobs, or they don’t want druggies period. A corporation has the right to discriminate against pretty much anyone unless it’s specifically outlawed, such as cases involving race, gender, religion or (in some states) sexual orientation.

It’s standard only in potentially dangerous jobs or jobs where public safety is concerned. I have heard about drug testing for white collar jobs, but that strikes me as rather absurd and I doubt it’s widespread.

Depends on that company’s policy.

If in a job where one is working with dangerous machinery, they’ll probably be looking for opiates, stimulants and depressants, or any other thing that could mess with your judgment or response time. If a cop or other public safety person (such as train operators and such here in NYC) you get tested regularly and will generally get booted if anything suspicious is found.

Friedo has it pretty much right, but I think it is much more common in the private sector than he implies. I’m a network admin/“computer geek of all trades” in a mid-level technical position, and I’ve come across many, many jobs that stated that they tested, and many friends who get tested or have been tested. It’s very unfortunate, and I hope that it doesn’t become more common–I think it’s a huge invasion of privacy when you’re working a non-hazardous job.

I’ve always been able to avoid jobs that test and find good jobs here. I’ve found that the ones that don’t test seem to treat their employees a little better as well.

I forgot to add that the tests are usually done at an independent lab or medical clinic–the typical “walk in and get stitched up” type clinics often do drug testing, but there are also “testing centers”. In every account I have ever head, it is paid for by the potential employer.

Thanks guys.

One extra question. Is it generally looked upon as a bad thing, a good thing or is opinion sharply divided ? I’m referring to drug tests in the private sector, say a desk job, not police officers or the DEA.

All kinds of crappy jobs require this too. I assume that they get some kind of compensation for it from either insurance or from the government (War on Drugs :rolleyes:). I can’t see a good reason for it most times. Does it really matter if the clerk at the supermarket gets stoned?

Back in the 80’s under Regan’s new War on Drugs.

It started as a public safty issue i.e. rail road eng.,truck drivers…
Then once it became accepted it grew from there. Many insurance companys and large industries recieved tax breaks and other considerations from state and federal governments.

The company doing the hireing. But as in all cost, this to gets pasted on to the consumer.

Independant labs, quite a big business thease days.

It is standard for some feilds, but almost any job could require one. Also if you get hurt on the job you have to pass a test before workers compensation will cover it. (workers compensation is manditory insurance emploiers are required to carry)

Mostly just urine test,but sense this can be easily passed by takeing an over the counter “test clean” product some emploiers will require a hair test. There is also blood test.

I guess they could hire you no matter what the results are but almost always it’s so long sucker.

Marijuana,cocane, speed,downers and opiates.
Different drugs will stay in your system for different lengths of time, i.e. marijuana will test positive for over 30 days wile cocane will clear out in just 3 days.

Your welcome,form the land of the free and the home of the brave. NOT!

As big an invasion as this is on our rights it is nothing compared to propery sceasure laws.

Wake up America and realize that the war on drugs is a War On The American People. It is not just Druggies that are loseing thear rights it is all of us.

Vote Libertarian http//:www.lp.org/

I work for a global Fortune 500 tech firm. We did over $20 billion in business last year and have around 150,000 employees.

Every single employee is required to have a drug test within 24 hours of being OFFERRED the job. If you fail, the offer is rescinded for cause. Most locations use a hair test to give them a wider window to test for. The company pays for the test.

Some positions are subject to random drug testing. EVERY employee is subject to required testing if their manager has cause to suspect they are violating company policy in regards to the “Drug Free Workplace” (hmmm, now a “Free Drug Workplace” would be a lot more interesting…).

At the account I work at, no one has been asked for a drug test (after the initial one) in the 5 years I’ve been here.

At this company, alcohol is considered a drug. You can be fired for setting foot on company property with any trace of alcohol in your system. You can be fired for having any alcohol while on company time, including all business travel and reimbursed meals. If you are on a technical team and on-call in case of emergencies, you are never supposed to drink unless on vacation (if you have a beer when you get home, then get paged back to work, you could be fired for either reporting after drinking or for refusing to report because you had been drinking). Somewhere in this company, someone who drinks probably actually follows the alcohol rules, but I haven’t met them yet. No one has a beer at lunch or shows up for a scheduled shift after drinking, but the rest of the alcohol rules are observed mostly in the flouting. If we fired all the Tech folks and SE’s that drank, there wouldn’t be a company left…

jkirkman, what company is that, it sounds like a horrible place to work!

Well, I left THAT little detail off because technically I could be fired for that too. I just discussed company policy outside the company without clearing it. Not to mention I’m posting from work…

Other fun things I could be fired for would include quoting our policy manual directly (it is a confidential document), telling anyone in the company how much I make, asking anyone in the company ANYTHING about their salary, or communicating directly with our client at this account.

It’s not that bad of a place to work. The benefits are good and the pay is decent. Their entire corporate mindset is that employees are mushrooms, though (keep ‘em in the dark and feed ‘em $hit).

Working in corporate America isn’t much different than living in the USA. You can’t really walk outside your house without breaking SOME kind of law, rule, or regulation. As long as you don’t piss off the powers-that-be and put up a front that fits a stereotype that they have a positive outlook on, no one actually hassles you. But GQ isn’t really the spot for a discussion of the breakdown of post-modern society, is it? :sunglasses:


Drug testing is seen as a very good way to screen out problem employees when hiring.

Reasons for drug testing:[ul]

  • It is easier to not hire a drug user than fire them later on
  • Security considerations
  • Hi Opal
  • Safety considerations
  • Insurance (company underwriters may demand it)
  • Health insurance (drug treatment ain’t cheap)
  • PR (a headline of “John Doe, an employee of Company X, was busted today on Meth charges” is typically frowned on by company X)
  • All other things being equal, hiring a user is not looked at as the best investment[/ul]
    Many companies do offer drug rehab for existing employees.

As others have mentioned I think drug testing is fairly prevalent in the US although it is by no means ubiquitous.

This is a bit OT but I have a ‘solution’, as it were, for invading personal privacy in this manner. I can certainly see the need and value of drug testing for those who could cause injury to others if they are impaired while working (i.e. pilots, doctors, school bus drivers, etc.). However, George the Receptionist being blotto off his ass is hardly a danger to anything more than the corporate image. My ‘solution’ is that any company that asks an employee or potential employee to take a drug test should pay $500 to that employee if their test turns out negative for any drugs. If the test is positive then the company can deal with the person as their HR policies dictate. The company could also avoid the $500 fee for drug testing anyone immediately after an accident at work. If you want to invade my privacy then I should at least get compensated for it.

Of course the chances of such a measure ever getting past the hordes of corporate lobbyists is nil but a guy can dream can’t he?

Whack-a-mole, it’s an interesting idea, but I see problems with it.

I work at an animal shelter. Our work has several salient features:

-We’re a nonprofit and always struggling to make ends meet while providing the best care that we can to the animals.
-Some of the animals at the shelter are extremely dangerous.
-Our animal care workers are paid reasonably well for entry-level jobs ($8 an hour), but it’s a high-stress job with a high turnover rate.
-We have had injuries occur in the shelter before because a worker was stoned and decided, for example, to see if that dog marked “Dangerous” really would bite.

I think that we’re a prime example of a business that should do pre-hire drug tests. But given our turnover rate (probably about 100% a year in animal caretakers), it would cost us several THOUSAND dollars annually to pay money to each employee with a clean test. That would be money that would come out of, for example, veterinary care for our animals.

What would your solution to our problem be?

Threadkiller has it exactly. A drug user is a higher risk to the company in many ways than a non-drug user. If they had a way to test people for work ethic, they would do that, too, I am sure. Just wait - 20 years from now they will hook us up to electrodes for psychological exams before giving us jobs!

Whack-a-mole: I love the pay us for the test thing - excellent idea! But like all great ideas, will never fly.

I work for a very nice, family oriented company. The benefits are excellent, great vacation leave, they don’t expect much overtime, etc.

But they do drug tests for everyone prior to hiring. They also drug test you if you have an on-the-job injury and have to go to the emergency room. If you refuse the test, you get fired and can’t claim the injury as workman’s comp. (happened to one guy while I was working here.) I think their philosphy here is that they do so much for us, they want us to keep up their good image and be as productive as we can in return. We are a small compnay, very close knit, and that kind of person wouldn’t fit our “culture”.

Even so, just about every job I have ever had required a drug test, including Blockbuster video when I was a junior in high school- good grief!

This is going to wander into GD territory really quick. What person that you deal with professionally would be ok to be wasted at work?

bank teller
Hi Opal!
tax preparer
accounts recievable at your mortgage company
admin assistant

People who are impaired in some way tend to make more mistakes, mistakes cost money. Any of the people above could really make a mess for you if they screw up. None of them “operate heavy machinery” or work in inherently dangerous jobs. Also some addicts (not all) have problems supporting their habit and may steal if the opportunity presents itself. This is also why some places like to run credit checks on employees as well to see if they are in serious financial trouble and may be a risk for embezzling and or theft.

At evil big company that i used to work for, the drug test was mandatory prior to hiring. after you were there, it seems pretty much anything goes! the place was lousy with dopers and potheads! i have never seen a place that had such a crappy addentance rate. people were calling in all the time, and those of us off the pipe had to pick up the slack.

there is a woman who works for a overnite delivary service who drops stuff off here where i work now who is the most cranked-up person i have EVER seen! she will come in the office, making wild gyrations and chewing her cheeks and lips. it looks like she’s having some kind of spastic fit! all her teeth are rotted out and she looks real rough. how the HELL she keeps her job is beyond me!

I guess I didn’t state my position quite properly (and sorry if I’m slipping into GD territory here).

It is never ok to be smashed at work and I think it is perfectly reasonable for a company to fire anyone found to be on drugs while at work.

However, if I decide to go home and smoke a joint I don’t see how it is my company’s business. I may be perfectly sober at work but their drug test will show I have used drugs relatively recently and use that as a cause to terminate my employment. What I do at home I feel is my business and my company has no right to peer into my life in this fashion. My quality of work is the measure of my value to the company. If I’m a drug addict I would imagine my ability to do my job would suffer and the company may have more than ample reason to fire me anyway. As long as I am no threat to anyone else physically I don’t see how drug testing does not constitute a violation of privacy.

So do stupid people. I’ve known many people who smoked pot on a regular basis and did magnificent work. At the same job there were people who were perfectly straight (I’m reasonably certain) who messed-up all the time. I don’t see how drug use necessarily relates to job performance. Either you get the job done or you don’t. If you don’t you get fired…simple as that.

I’ve heard of this as well and this one REALLY apalls me. Christ, I’ve had my down times and my credit got screwed. I shudder to think I could never have climbed my way out of that particular pit because I no one would give me a job due to my bad credit.

Problem is where do you draw the line, If I random drug test an employee and he shows positive for marjijuana, did he smoke it over the weekend or at lunch break. We used to have a truck driver at our company who insisted he was allowed to drink alcohol at lunch because he is not on duty.

This is why one of my employers started, we were getting robbed and embezzled damn near out of business. Their favorite employees were a bunch of cocaine and or crank addicts. Managers loved them, they were always so “alert and productive”. Most of them were fired in a 2 week period when we installed a couple covert cameras in the cash handling areas.

Don’t get me started on stupid people, one of my employers does give basic math tests to everyone who applies. Its amazing how many idiots get stopped cold by basic algebra. X+(pi)=4.14159 solve for X.

They do it for management at both of the companies I work for

I have another idea. How’s about if y’all open a separate GD thread to discuss the non-factual matters around this issue.

Thank you.

Not part of a debate, merely a datum.

The company for whom I currently work does run drug tests, and for some of us they’re apparently optional. This is the only job I’ve ever had that ran tests at all. They’ve got a big stack of test kits (basically urine cups) in the supply closet, and I think everybody who goes out on a rig has to pee on command.

But I’ve never taken the test - nothing to hide, I’ve just never gotten around to it. My only restriction is that I cannot drive a company vehicle. This has worked to my advantage already.

I’ve been here two+ years and nobody’s buggin’ me to take a test.