Programs for drug testing in Utah allow employers to determine whether prospective employees or existing employees are under the influence of illicit drugs, certain prescription medications, or alcohol during work hours. These programs work to prevent and deter drug use that could impact the workplace.
While employers can test employees for drug use, they must comply with specific laws when they conduct these tests. If you have questions about policies related to drug testing in Utah, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your rights.
What Are Workplace Drug Tests?
Employers can test employees for a variety of different substances. The type of test that they use will depend on the type of drug that they want to test for. Federal regulations and Utah laws allow labs to test hair, urine, saliva, or sweat.
What Drugs Do Employers Test For?
Employers complete drug testing in Utah to check for five general categories of drugs. Those categories include:
Other categories that employers may test for include ethanol, barbiturates, methadone, hydrocodone, benzodiazepines, MDMA, propoxyphene, and methaqualone.
When Do Employers Test for Drugs?
Employers can perform drug testing in Utah in several ways, including random testing. Many people believe that this testing strategy is the best way to deter drug use in the workplace. However, there are many other common circumstances in which an employer may choose to conduct a drug test. Employers often ask prospective employees to take a drug test as part of the conditions of hire. Employers may then continue to test employees each year. The tests can be part of an annual physical examination, but employers should inform employees if they are expected to undergo these tests. A failure to notify employees in advance is a possible violation on the part of the employer.
Suppose your employer has a reasonable suspicion that you are unfit for your job because you have displayed a pattern of unsafe behavior at work. In this case, they can use a for-cause reasonable suspicion test. Employers use these tests as a way to prevent drug-related accidents from occurring that may injure employees or their coworkers.
After an accident, your employer may request that you submit to a drug test. These tests can inform the employer about whether you were using drugs or alcohol so that they can determine whether your intoxication contributed to an accident. When this happens, the drug test can have implications for your employment, as well as for your ability to collect workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, you may face possible legal DUI penalties.
If you attend a rehabilitation program for drug or alcohol use, your employer can request a test upon your return to work.
Drug testing in Utah is often considered to be essential for the safety of employees of the workplace. Employers have certain rights to perform these tests, but employees also have rights.
What Are the Standards for Tests?
If your employer is conducting drug testing in Utah, they will need to comply with specific standards. For instance, they must collect the tests in reasonable and sanitary conditions, with due regard to your privacy, and in a manner reasonably calculated to prevent interference or substitutions with a collection of testing samples.
The test must also protect you by using careful labeling procedures and by transporting, collecting, and storing test samples in ways that will prevent tampering or contamination. This caution is important because false positives can severely impact you as an employee.
If Utah employers choose to include drug testing as a condition of employment, they must also test managers and upper-level employees for drugs. The employer must also provide you with information regarding their testing policy. This information must be in writing and available to any prospective employees to review.
As an employee, you can provide medical information regarding any conditions you have or prescriptions and over-the-counter medications that you take.
Private Employers vs. Public Employers and Medical Marijuana
In 2018, Utah passed a medical cannabis act that includes an anti-discrimination policy for public employees. Employees working for the state can use medical cannabis without retaliation from their employer.
In 2020, legislators amended the act to clarify that the law does not provide the same level of protection for private employers. Under the amended law, private employers can subject their employees to drug testing in Utah and apply a zero-tolerance policy for cannabis use.
In contrast, political employees and state workers with valid medical cannabis cards should not face adverse action if they fail a drug test for marijuana.
Violations by Employers
When an employer violates the laws surrounding testing procedures — which includes notifying employees about drug testing policies or conducting tests that fail to meet the applicable standards — employees have the right to take action against their employer.
Employees can also file an action if the employer discriminates against them in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This may happen by penalizing an employee for substances that are medically necessary for the employee’s condition.
If an employer conducts drug tests in a discriminatory way, including testing based on age, gender, or race, the employee might be able to file a discrimination claim. Invasion of privacy is also possible if the employer’s drug test policies violate privacy laws.
Employers can only use the information they collect through drug tests for specific purposes. If your employer uses the information gained in a positive drug test in a way that defames you, you might be able to file a defamation action.
Employers must remember that your test-related information is confidential. They can only disclose results as part of a rehabilitative or disciplinary action, licensing procedure, or to defend themselves in a libel, defamation, or slander action.
If you believe your employer’s drug testing in Utah violated your rights, contact an attorney.
Consequences of a Positive Test
If your employer performs drug testing in Utah and finds that you are positive for drugs, they must complete a confirmation test. Your employer can take action against you for failing a drug test. Your employer can also take action against you for refusing to agree to submit to a drug test.
In some cases, your employer may choose to ask you to enter into a rehabilitative program. However, you may also face more severe consequences, depending on your employer’s policies, the role you filled, and the circumstances of your test.