Under What Circumstances is Drug Testing Allowed in California?

Under What Circumstances is Drug Testing Allowed in California?

Drug testing in California is particularly complicated, because there is legislation to protect an employee’s right to privacy. Drug testing is basically in conflict with this legislation, so it is a balancing act between allowing the employer reasonable grounds to test their employees, and the employee’s right to privacy. There are a few narrow situations where drug testing is allowed in the workplace and also what can be tested. As marijuana is now legal in California, this can no longer be tested most of the time. If you’d like to learn a little more about when you can drug test your employees in California, keep reading to learn more.

1. Pre Employment Testing
It is possible to drug test a candidate once an offer has been made, but before they start working for your company. This is probably the easiest time to test someone, and as they begin working for you their right to privacy basically increases. You can perform pre employment drug testing without any need for suspicious grounds or any evidence that they could be under the influence of drugs. As marijuana is now legal in California, this will not be included in any pre employment testing drug tests unless the candidate is applying for a federal or safety sensitive position. California drug testing laws are very conservative and pre employment testing is basically the only time when any employer can easily test their candidates or employees.

2. Reasonable Suspicion Testing
It is possible to test an employee if you have reasonable grounds for believing they’re using drugs and that it is impacting their ability to perform their job. However the reasonable grounds must be based on facts. It can be quite difficult to know what constitutes reasonable grounds, so if this is something you’d like to move forward with, then it may be worth seeking legal counsel to ensure you’re handling it appropriately. If you try to drug test your employee based on reasonable grounds, you want to be almost certain that the drug result would show a positive result, so it’s important to look for a number of signs that suggest drug use. Signs include: changes in weight, changes in job performance, changes in appearance and grooming, bloodshot eyes, or pupils either too small or too large and so forth. If you’d like to have your staff trained to notice these signs, you can enroll them in a course at a local testing center.

3. Random Testing
For the most part random testing is not available to most employers in the state of California. As mentioned, the state of California puts great importance on someone’s right to privacy and random drug testing is considered a violation of this right. There are, however, a few cases that are exempt. Employees who work in federal positions for example, may be subject to random drug testing. Likewise employees who have safety sensitive positions may also be required to partake in random drug testing to ensure their sobriety. As safety-sensitive positions require that the employee is able to perform their job safely, it is imperative that they are sober and able to do so. But for the most part private companies in the state of California can not have the right to partake in random drug testing.

There are a very narrow set of situations where employers are allowed to drug test their employees in the state of California. If you have a situation where you’d like to drug test an employee, then I suggest seeking legal counsel to help you properly navigate that situation. An employee’s right to privacy is held in high regard in the State of California, so it’s important to tread carefully in this regard.