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Understanding Corporate Drug Testing Today

Most private employers are not required to drug test their employees. Safety-sensitive industries like the Department of Defense (DOD), Nuclear Regulatory Committee (NRC), and Department of Transportation (DOT) regulate drug-testing of their employees [1]. Additionally, the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires organizations to implement a drug-free workplace policy if the organization receives a federal contract for $100,000 or a federal grant of any size [2]. However, the drug-free workplace policy is not required to include drug testing.

Why Perform Drug Tests?

Though private employers are usually not required to implement employee drug testing, many may choose to do so anyway. The National Drug Institute reported that substance abuse is responsible for up to half of all workers’ compensation claims, increases the likelihood of missing work, more than triples the risk of accidents, and reduces worker productivity by 33% [3]. Due to the negative impact of drug use on workplace safety and productivity, employers may choose to implement drug testing programs in their companies. There are several circumstances when a company may decide to require a drug test [4]:

  • Pre-employment drug tests are performed during the application process to a corporate position and are typically a condition of employment. While this test may deter people who abuse drugs from applying to a certain job, applicants can also stop drug use during the application process to avoid producing a positive drug test before being hired. Therefore, on-the-job testing can be a more effective drug-use deterrent. Though employers can use pre-employment drug tests for employee screening purposes, altering them to current drug use, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 mandates that employers cannot fire or refuse to hire someone due to a history of drug abuse or because the applicant/employee is in a rehabilitation program [5].
  • Random drug testing of employees is unannounced and unpredictable. Since employees don’t know when they will be tested, random drug tests discourage general drug use by employees.
  • Drug tests performed under reasonable suspicion, or “probable cause”, determine if an employee behaving suspiciously is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Since probable cause drug testing is at the discretion of management, the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association notes that supervisors and managers should have clear, consistent circumstances under which they perform these tests [4]. Consistent standards of drug testing prevent bias in testing certain employees more than others, which could result in claims of discrimination.
  • Accidents testing can help determine if drugs or alcohol were involved.

What Kind of Drug Testing is Done for Corporate Jobs?

A common method for workplace drug testing is urinalysis, or a urine drug test cup. Urine tests are the only type of drug test approved for federally mandated, safety-sensitive testing [6]. This type of drug test detects metabolites of drugs or the broken-down waste products of drugs that are excreted in the urine.

Oral fluid testing and hair testing are also popular options for drug tests.

Oral fluid or saliva testing detects drugs in the saliva, but these metabolites are not detected for as long in saliva as they are in urine [7]. Saliva tests are more difficult for people to cheat, as their mouth is directly swabbed by the tester, so there is limited possibility of switching the fluids like in an unobserved urine test.

Breath tests are a common way to determine how much alcohol is in a person’s system

Less common drug tests include blood and sweat tests.

Which Laws Affect Corporate Drug Testing?

Employers who want to create a drug testing policy for their workplace should be aware of laws affecting drug testing and seek legal counsel to ensure that their testing policies are legal and fair.

Several laws impact drug testing for employers, as described by the  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [8]:

  • The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1993 prevents employees from firing or refusing to hire or promote employees just because they have a history of substance abuse or are enrolled in a rehabilitation program. Some states have also ruled that asking candidates about their prescription drug use during interviews is a form of discrimination.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on their race, sex, religion, or nationality. Though these protected classes are not associated with drug use, drug testing policies that appear to target individuals based on these protected traits may face legal challenges.
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 applies to all public sectors and private employers with at least 50 workers. The FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for themselves or a family member. Employees can also take an unpaid leave to deal with substance or alcohol abuse treatment or related problems.
  • The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 requires employers to negotiate with unionized employees to determine the specifics of a drug testing policy and penalties that will be applied in instances of failed drug tests.

Do Corporate Jobs Drug Test for Marijuana?

Marijuana is an increasingly popular drug that is legalized at some level in many states. However, marijuana is still a federally illegal drug [9]. Therefore, employees subject to federal regulations, or federal drug testing, such as those in safety-sensitive industries, are not permitted to use marijuana regardless of potential medical use [10].

Private employers can choose whether their applicants and employees will face discipline for marijuana use or not. With the popularity of marijuana increasing throughout the country, some employers are choosing not to test for marijuana use in order to attract more potential employees [11]. These policies are likely to change as the laws around marijuana use in the U.S. continuously shift.

Where Can I Buy A Drug Test Kit?

12 Panel Now offers saliva and urine drug test kits that detect various panels of drugs.

  • 12 Panel Now urine cup drug tests provide fast results in just a few minutes – no need for external lab analysis.
  • The CLIA-waived urine drug test cup is highly accurate (99%) and FDA approved. A built-in temperature strip alerts you if donor urine is not the correct temperature, alerting you to attempts at drug test cheating.
  • Simple directions are printed directly on the 12 Panel Now drug test pee cups, making them quick and easy to use.
  • 12 Panel Now urine drug test cups can test for several different panels of drugs, ranging from the 8-panel, popular 12-panel, up to 16-panel tests for the most efficient drug testing.
  • 12 Panel Now tests are affordable, with a price match guarantee and additional savings when buying bulk.


  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/workplace/legal/federal-laws/contractors-grantees
  2. https://www.samhsa.gov/workplace/legal/federal-laws/safety-security-sensitive
  3. https://www.concentra.com/resource-center/articles/what-do-you-need-to-know-about-pre-employment-drug-tests/
  4. https://www.datia.org/datia-resources/27-credentialing/cpc-and-cpct/931-workplace-drug-testing.html
  5. https://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm#12114
  6. https://www.questdiagnostics.com/home/companies/employer/drug-screening/testing-reasons/pre-employment/
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/mouth-swab-drug-test#detection
  8. https://www.samhsa.gov/workplace/legal/federal-laws
  9. https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling
  10. https://ohsonline.com/articles/2020/04/30/updating-drug-screen-protocols-in-light-of-new-marijuana-laws.aspx
  11. https://www.wsj.com/articles/positive-marijuana-tests-are-up-among-u-s-workers-11622023202
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