Among employees, there are a variety of times in which they may legally be drug tested in the workplace. Employees are often tested prior to being hired to prevent employers from hiring people who use illegal drugs. After an employee is hired, if an employee’s supervisor has reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may test the employee for illegal drug use. Employees in a workplace may also be tested post-accident to determine whether drugs or alcohol contributed to the event.
Lastly, employers may choose to conduct random testing to deter drug use. However, Connecticut law prohibits private-sector employers from requiring employees to undergo random drug tests. An employer must have a reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol that is affecting or could affect, his/her job performance before he/she may require a test.
Who is Protected Against Drug Testing?
State and municipal employees are not covered by the state law that prohibits random drug testing, however they are protected by the Fourth Amendment which prohibits the government from carrying out unreasonable searches. The Supreme Court has ruled that urine tests are searches and that the Fourth Amendment applies to governments acting as employers.
Federal law and regulations also require the operators of commercial vehicles over a certain size to undergo drug tests before they are hired, after serious incidents, and when there is a reasonable suspicion. In the private sector, pre-employment drug testing is fairly common.
There are no federal or state statutes that cover drug testing of students in public schools. Students do not have the same level of constitutional rights as adults. A 2002 Supreme Court decision permits schools to conduct random drug testing of students who participate in extracurricular activities, but drug testing cannot be a condition for attending school.
If you have any questions regarding employment law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.