US Drug Test Centers Blog

Is Employment Drug Testing Fair?

Posted: Apr 24 2019

By: Ashlee Arnold

Employment drug testing continues to be a topic of heated debate. The legal use of marijuana both medicinally and recreationally is spreading faster than ever before, and suddenly, employees' personal habits outside of working hours are being questioned in the workplace. Is this ethical? Is employment drug testing fair?

Let's look at both sides.

In Favor of Employment Drug Testing

Many argue employment drug testing is badly needed. Here are a couple of reasons why.


Employees who come to work even slightly impaired due to drug use can be a danger to themselves, their co-workers, and even the public, depending on what their job role is.

It can be more damaging than you think. Imagine a person who works in the transportation industry showing up to work under the influence. The safety of potentially countless people is then called into question. This puts immense strain on the employer, who will likely be liable for any damages.

Even the nine-to-five office worker can cause damage if they show up to work impaired. If you can't perform your job accurately, other people suffer the consequences for it.

Studies have also found that substance use in the workplace is positively correlated with crime in the workplace — specifically theft.

In that sense, employers have every right to test you for drugs and alcohol. It can literally come down to a matter of life and death.


There are also logistics to consider. An employee under the influence can’t be nearly as productive and perform as efficiently as they would otherwise. Once again, the employer will pay the price for this — in terms of lost hours and wages. It’s only fair employees work at their full potential while they are on their employers’ time.

employees sitting at rows of tables

Employee Turnover Rate

Substance use in the workplace is horrible for employee turnover rate. Employees using drugs or alcohol are likelier to quit or abandon their jobs with no notice. They're also likelier to be fired or laid off.

Searching for, interviewing, hiring, and training new employees can cost an employer tens of thousands of dollars. Maintaining a drug-free work environment can mean a significantly lower employee turnover rate.

Against Employment Drug Testing

At the same time, there are many who believe drug testing doesn’t belong in the workplace. Here are a few reasons why.


The most obvious argument against employment drug testing is the invasion of privacy. If an employee smokes pot over the weekend on their own time, that’s their business. By requiring them to submit to a drug test, you are essentially forcing them to combine their professional and personal lives into one. This may not be fair — which brings us to the next point.


There can be much ambiguity when it comes to employment drug testing and determining impairment in the workplace. For instance, if an employee smokes marijuana on a Sunday and gets tested the following Monday at work, the test will pick up on THC in that person’s system even if they are no longer high.

If the employee isn't impaired, does it matter if THC is still in their system? Where do you draw the line?

There's a lot of gray area.

Feelings Toward Employers

Last but certainly not least, one must consider the impact mandatory drug testing can have on workplace morale. In all likelihood, employees won’t be thrilled about having to submit a urine sample, and the alternative — refusing to submit — isn’t all that promising, either. It might make them feel like they have no power and no say in the matter.

employees sitting at computers at work

A Proposed Solution

It's probably safe to say employment drug testing isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Instead, the question becomes this: what is the absolute best way to conduct employee drug testing?

Establishing a Solid Drug-Free Workplace Policy

Keeping a clear line of communication open with your staff and ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding the rules surrounding drug testing is crucial. This comes down to your drug-free workplace policy.

This policy should spell out, in detail, the following:

  • Their rights as employees.
  • What's expected of them in terms of their test results.
  • How you determine impairment.
  • How you select people for random drug testing.
  • What happens if they test positive.
  • What happens if they refuse to take a drug test.

This list is not exhaustive. A completely thorough policy that covers every angle ensures you as an employer are protected — in addition to your entire staff and the public.

You don't have to figure it all out on your own. Let US Drug Test Centers help you craft your drug-free workplace policy, as well as manage your random selection drug testing, conduct all testing, and much more. If you already have a policy, we'll work with you to make sure it's as thorough as it can be.

We'll guide you in managing every aspect of maintaining a drug-free workplace so that you can focus on what matters most: running your business. Additionally, we have more than 20,000 locations around the United States, meaning we're never more than a few miles down the road. Using our cloud-based software, you can schedule a test 24/7, from anywhere in the nation, for any of our locations. We utilize SAMHSA-certified laboratories, and a medical review officer (MRO) will always review and verify all drug test results, ensuring accuracy.

Contact us today with questions or to get started.

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