Drug Misuse at Work – The Law and Guide for Employers

When It comes to drugs and alcohol abuse in the workplace there is no specific law that was being adopted for every state in the country. However, there is a law that forces all government jobs that they enforce the rule that there is a 0-tolerance policy when it comes to using drugs in the workplace. For the private employers, there is no rule but it is acceptable to expect that a working environment should be drug-free. There is only an exception when it comes to private contractors that are hired to perform federal contracts, and security sensitive industries also have a drug policy that prohibits the use of drugs in the workplace.

While there are several laws that give power the employer when it comes to testing out if their working force is using drugs, there are also laws that protect and set limits on how much the employer can use their power to infringe on the privacy of their workforce.

One law that addresses this issue is the law of Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. Where any person that has any physical disability is protected from discrimination because they have prior drug use on their record. It directly influences and forbids by law that employers cannot fire, refuse to promote, refuse to hire or any other discriminatory act because somebody had a substance use issue in their past, or because their workforce is enrolled in any rehabilitation program.

Also, organizations and other working places that employ more than 15 people that want to form a drug-free policy at their workplace where they have a unionized workforce need to be aware of The National Labor Relations Act (NRLA) of 1935. With this act, there is a clear established relation between the management and the unionized labor side when it comes to negotiations.

It is also important to know that the Department of Labor ended the drug-free workplace program in 2010 so all laws about drug policies are usually written by the company as guidelines and enforced by the state’s stance on drugs and drug-related issues at work.