There are two (2) opposing views about drug testing. Employers find it a cost-effective way of weeding out potentially unproductive or dangerous employees or applicants. Employees see the same tests as unnecessary as well as a disruptive violation of privacy. Both can be true depending on the circumstances.
Drug and alcohol abuse of employees cost employers billions of dollars each year in terms of decreased productivity, increase liability exposure and higher worker’s compensation premiums. It is therefore in the best interest of both employees and employers to have a drug-free workplace. The matter of drug testing becomes controversial when the procedure is imposed in a manner that violates personal or constitutional rights.
The California Drug Testing Workplace Act of 1990 requires:
- every person or organization who is awarded a contract or grant for the procurement of any property or services from any state agency must certify to the contracting or granting agency that the contractor will provide a drug-free workplace
- the contractor or grantee to notify all of its employees in writing that the unlawful manufacture, distribution, possession or use of a controlled substance is prohibited in the person’s or organization’s workplace
- the contractor to notify employees of the actions that will be taken against employees for violation of the prohibition
- entities that are awarded state grants or contracts to establish a drug-free awareness program so that employees will be informed of the dangers of drug abuse in the workplace
- employees to be informed of any available counseling or rehabilitation available to them and the penalties that may be imposed for drug abuse violations
A contract or grant awarded by a state agency may be suspended or cancelled under California’s law if the contractor or grantee makes a false certification. However, the law does not require subcontractors to also provide a drug-free workplace. Drug testing continues to be challenged by different circumstances all over the state.
The City of Glendale had a requirement that every job applicant conditionally approved for hiring and current employees offered promotion, to submit to a physical including a drug test. Although the Supreme Court of California approves of suspicion less testing of job applicants, it also believes that a government employer may not require a urinalysis drug test of every current government employee who applies for promotion to another government position. The court rules that such testing is dependent upon the nature and duties of the job. California lawmakers have also passed a bill that would ban random, suspicionless drug testing of students in public schools. It allows drug testing as long as the parent and the student consent and as long as those who don’t want to be tested will not be barred from school activities.
California voters approved the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, known as Proposition 36, which espouses drug treatment instead of incarceration for non-violent drug offenders convicted for the first or second time after July 1, 2001. The act provides for the following:
- it is limited to those guilty of simple drug possession
- persons previously convicted of violent or serious felonies are not eligible for treatment unless they’ve served their time and have committed no felony crime for five (5) years
- persons convicted of a non-drug crime along with drug possession are likewise not eligible
- persons convicted of selling drugs are not eligible
Treatment under Proposition 36 may include job training, literacy training and family counseling to enable addicts to turn into productive citizens.