How to reconcile American pride and drug tests

If you’re American working class, you know what I’m talking about. America touts itself as the home of the free, yet allows the privacy of her citizens to regularly be violated in a degrading fashion.

So how’s that work?

Pretty well, actually.

Simple; America isn’t “the home of the free”, any more than it is “the land of opportunity”. It’s just a nation that likes to talk up how awesome and better than everyone else it is.

It’s the moral magic of consent: one guy makes a take-it-or-leave-it offer; another guy is free to accept it or walk away, his choice.

Yeah, I don’t really see what the conflict is. Employers can require drug tests if they want…workers can apply for jobs where they want.

Now, a case can be made that in a true “land of the free”, people would be legally allowed to take more of those drugs that employers are checking for…


Look, we’re both free, right?

So if I propose that you allow me to examine your rectum with a speculum and a video camera, and you agree, in what way is freedom damaged?

No argument yet that if an employer says “Lemme analyze your pee” and you say “No” and the employer says “No job for you!”, and if we’re at a point where all or most employers do this, then we’re not really free to refuse if we want to, you know, eat or pay rent or stuff?

It’s hard to say it’s a matter of consent if every hiring employer in your area requires a drug test for employment. Of course, you can pedantically say “Have you really checked EVERY hiring employer” but there’s a point where if x% of prospective employers require a drug test, it very much limits your options in where to apply if you don’t want to consent, whether you use anything that would get you disqualified or not.

I know it’s a stretch, and probably not very likely, but maybe you could, you know, put down the bong for a month and get a job that way?

Taking drugs for the vast majority of folks is illegal. Most jobs that are better than flipping burgers require a credit and a background check. If I am a convicted felon, I have to tell them. If I have a bankruptcy, I may not get the job.

It sucks that weed is more important to some folks than getting a decent job. Those people are doomed to flip burgers or worse, because they can’t think beyond the next time the clock hits 20 minutes after 4. But it’s not a companies fault that they are not willing to take on the risk of someone coming to work high and hurting themselves, someone else, or the business.

FTR, I am pro legalization, even though I don’t smoke (makes my lungs hurt more than the high was worth). But I also know we live in a nation governed by laws, and standards of conduct.

I don’t use any illicit substances, and would still be pissed as all hell if an employer demanded I take drug tests. That I’d pass them isn’t terribly relevant. Fortunately I live in a country that doesn’t allow employers to require drug tests unless there’s a specific need.

Doesn’t matter.

If I ask Helen Hunt to sleep with me and she says no, is my freedom to have sex restricted? How about if I also get nos from Eva Longoria, Kim Kardashian, Renee Russo, and that hot divorced mom down the block, and even my wife says not until I fix the squeaky bed because she’s self-conscious otherwise?

That’s most or all the women I want, and they all said no. I look forward to serving a lawsuit on Ms. Hunt compelling her to reverse her decision.

Also my wife.

(Kidding, honey, if you’re reading).

I think this misses the mark. Jenaroph’s example was not all the jobs he would potentially interested in; it was virtually all of the jobs that are available.

To make your example equivalent to his, you would also have to say that you get turned down by almost every available woman, not only the ones you desire.

Eh, this sounds like an unrealistic slippery-slope type argument. I’ve worked quite a few low-paying jobs in the 10-15 years, in various parts of the country, and IIRC only one or two had drug tests.

I’m not saying it’s not possible that in some towns the great majority of jobs test; it just strikes me as unlikely. And it still sounds like something that’s reasonably within an employer’s rights.

I find a desire to nose around in your bodily wastes to be extremely invasive of privacy.

What if instead employers were refusing to hire unless you granted them the right to read all your mail?

Would that be offensive enough to be illegal?

Yeah, this is about employer’s rights vs employee’s rights. Either way, somebody has to give up some “freedom.” Either employers have the freedom to making hiring/firing choices based on voluntary drug tests, or employees have the right to employment without having to take and/or pass drug tests.

So who’s freedom do you want to restrict? The employer, who is legally liable in many cases for the safety of his employees, vendors and customers, or the employee who is legally liable for really only his own actions?

I argue that it is certainly fair for employees to ask for drug tests, and if you don’t want to take them, you don’t have to. If they don’t want to hire you then, or if you get fired because of refusal, then what’s wrong with that?

I’m normally a strong proponent for employee’s rights (minimum wage laws, overtime laws, safety laws, etc), but in this case, I think the employer’s rights are more important to a safe and healthy work environment.

Every serious job I have had has had a drug test. It’s all part of the cost of doing business. I’m not to bothered by it, I knew as soon as I wanted to do something more than making pizza’s that I would have to pee in a cup to do so.

Why does your desire to break the law trump my, for example, IT companies desire to keep our other employees and our business safe from your illegal “hobbies”.

(note: this is generic you, not necessarily Gorsnak)

Where do you get off assuming that I (generic I, not necessarily just me) want to break the law? I don’t want to break the law. I don’t smoke marijuana, never have, and wouldn’t even if it were legal. I just don’t want to piss in a cup for my employer, and think that most of the assumptions and implications surrounding employee drug testing are both demeaning and coercive.

I hate pre-employment and random drug testing (have no problem with it if an employee appears to be altered on the job, though). I think it’s invasive and coercive and wrong headed and stupid and horrible. I also knew that I’d have to stop smoking weed to go into nursing. It’s reality. It’s even harder to fight than the hypothetical.

The other level at which “the land of the free” works is that you are free to work to change the law. If you want to restrict the ability of employers to drug test, you can “petition the government for redress of grievances” by writing letters to the appropriate elected officials, supporting those candidates who agree with your position, organizing public protests, writing letters to the editor, even standing on a soapbox and proclaiming your beliefs. While these approaches can have varying degrees of effectiveness, I was working in state legislatures during a time when drug testing was a hot-button issue, and we paid a lot of attention to letters and lobbying groups on the subject. Exercise your freedom by contacting your state representative, or alternatively see if there’s a group in your state that is active on this issue – maybe you can start a dialogue that will lead to change.

But we know that this is untrue: at most, only three-fourths of the jobs require drug tests, and that’s a generous figure.

America certainly prides itself on freedom and opportunity.

From Wikipedia:

For freedom, in a populist rather than libertarian sense, the situation is even bleaker.

Wake up and smell the coffee, Americans.