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Can you be terminated for a failed drug test?

Although there have been challenges in court as to whether workplace drug testing policies violate an employee's right to privacy, these challenges have not exactly been successful. In most cases, the employer has the law on their side and an employee can be terminated for drug use. In some instances, however, the way the test results are utilized or the way the test was conducted may give an employee a valid reason to challenge his or her termination.

As an example, an employee could challenge his or her termination due to a positive drug test if an employer divulges the results indiscriminately or if the employee was forced to take the test in a manner that disrespected his or her privacy rights. An employee may also have a case to question his or her termination if he or she is tested for drugs excessively or in an inappropriate manner.

Interestingly, to ensure employees' rights to privacy, many states have certain requirements that employers must adhere to if they wish to test their employees for drug use. Basically, they must be able to justify that their need to test for drugs is because of safety issues or is a business necessity.

For example --- employers in California must certify that they provide a drug free workplace if they wish to be awarded grants or state contracts. They must also have a written policy pertaining to this for their employees. Since this is a business necessity, employees who have tested positive for drug use could be terminated without much possibility of legal recourse.

Individuals who have been terminated for drug use may find it beneficial to learn more about their rights and whether they have any grounds for recourse.

Source: FindLaw, "Drug Testing at Work" accessed Mar. 24, 2015

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