It can be seen as routine to be compelled to take a drug test prior to starting the first day at a new job; however, everyone who is taking a drug test should know their rights. There are legal limits to the drug test that an employer can administer and these laws vary from state to state.
While the state of Minnesota does permit employers to require drug testing for new hires prior to employment at their place of work, these tests can only be administered under certain circumstances.
Laws Surrounding New Hires
First, an employer cannot request a drug test prior to offering someone a formal hiring offer. This means that an applicant cannot be compelled to take a drug test unless they have received a firm, concrete, written job offer along with the written notice explaining the drug testing policy. Furthermore, an employer cannot request a drug test for a single employee without drug testing all employees at the same position. While an employer can require drug tests for certain positions in the company and not others, all employees occupying the same position must be tested in the exact same manner.
A Positive Test
In addition, an applicant who tests positive during a routine drug test should not immediately panic because they still have rights. In the event of a positive test, the new hire has up to three days to offer an explanation for why they tested positive. Perhaps the new hire was recently released from the hospital where they had received medication that might show up in the drug screen. In other cases, the new hire may have a legal prescription from a physician that explains why certain substances were found in their system. The applicant also has up to five days to request a retest under the drug testing laws in the state of Minnesota. The employer cannot pull the job offer from the table unless the requested retest reveals another positive result.
What About Existing Employees?
There are also laws governing when an employer can drug test an employee who has already been on the job for an extended period of time. Notably, the employer must notify all employees regarding the drug testing protocol at the company and cannot test people randomly or arbitrarily. There are several circumstances that employees should be aware of that are valid reasons for requesting a drug test. For example:
- An employee is suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on the job
- An employee has either sustained or caused someone else to sustain a serious injury while on the job
- An employee is required to receive a routine physical exam annually as stated in their contract
It should be noted that in the final condition the employee must receive two weeks’ notice about the upcoming physical. Anyone with concerns about drug testing policies at places of employment should contact an experienced attorney for more information.