Has your Louisiana employer or prospective employer asked you to take a drug test? Federal law places few limits on employer drug testing: Although the federal government requires testing by employers in a few safety-sensitive industries (including transportation, aviation, and contractors with NASA and the Department of Defense), federal law doesn’t otherwise require – or prohibit drug tests. For the most part, state and local laws determine whether an employer may test employees and applicants for drugs.
Drug Testing Rules for Applicants in Louisiana
Louisiana law allows employers to require applicants to take a drug test as a condition of employment. An employer must use certified laboratories and specified procedures for testing if it will base its hiring decisions on the results of the test.
Drug Testing Rules for Employees in Louisiana
An employer may test employees for drugs (except in the industries of oil drilling, exploration, or production). An employer that will take negative action against an employee based on a positive test result must use certified laboratories and specified procedures for testing.
An employee with a confirmed positive drug test result may request all records relating to the test within seven working days. An employer may (but is not required to) allow an employee who tests positive to undergo rehabilitation rather than termination of employment.
Legal Claims for Drug Testing
Louisiana employers must use certified laboratories and follow required procedures if they will use a positive test result as the basis for discipline or termination; an employer who doesn’t follow these rules could end up in legal trouble. Other potential legal issues arising from drug testing include:
- Disability discrimination. An applicant or employee who is taking medication for a disability is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Some prescribed medications turn up on drug tests, and some drugs that would otherwise be illegal (such as opiates) are legitimately prescribed for certain conditions. If an applicant is turned down because of a positive drug test, and the applicant's medication was legally prescribed for a disability, the company could be liable (unless the drug is medical marijuana).
- Other discrimination claims. An employer who singles out certain groups of employees – for example, by race, age, or gender – for drug testing could face a discrimination claim.
- Invasion of privacy. Even an employer that has a legitimate reason to test might violate employee privacy in the way it conducts the test. For example, requiring employees to disrobe or provide a urine sample in front of others could be a privacy violation, depending on the circumstances.
- Defamation. An employee might have a valid claim for defamation if the employer publicizes a false positive result, if the employer acts in bad faith and knew (or should have known) that the result was incorrect.