If you work or are applying for a job in Connecticut and your employer has asked you to take a drug test, you’ll want to know your legal rights. 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, this area is regulated by state and local laws.
Like many other states, Connecticut has laws that allow drug testing in certain situations, as long as the employer follows the procedural rules.
Rules for Job Applicants in Connecticut
Connecticut employers may (but don’t have to) require applicants to take a drug test as a condition of employment. The employer must inform applicants, in writing, if drug testing will be required. If the applicant fails the test, the employer must provide a copy of the test results. An employer may refuse to hire an employee who will not submit to a drug test.
A former employee who reapplies may not be subjected to applicant testing unless the former employee has been away from the job for at least one year. Otherwise, the former employee is subject to the rules for employees, below.
Rules for Connecticut Employees
An employer in Connecticut may require an employee to take a drug test when there is a reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence of drugs, and the employee’s job performance is or could be adversely affected.
Random drug testing is allowed only if:
- testing is required by federal law (For example, because the employer is a defense contractor)
- the employee’s position has been designated high risk or safety sensitive by the state labor department
- the employee drives a school bus or other student transportation vehicle, or
- the employee has voluntarily consented to the testing as part of the employer’s employee assistance program (EAP).
Notice and Procedural Rights for Employees
A Connecticut employer may not directly observe employees giving urine specimens.
An employer also may not fire or take any other adverse personnel action against an employee on the basis of a single positive test unless the positive result has been confirmed in a second test.
Legal Claims Arising From Drug Testing
Have you been illegally asked or required to take a drug test? Even though Connecticut law allows employers to drug test in certain circumstances, employees and applicants may have legal claims based on how the test was conducted, who was tested, or how the results were used. Here are some examples:
- Violation of state laws and procedures. Although an employer has the legal right to test, it must follow the state’s requirements. A Connecticut employer that fails to observe state procedural rights (for example, by confirming a positive test result before taking action based on it) may violate the law.
- 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.
- 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 is allowed or required 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.
- Defamation. An employee might have a valid claim for defamation if the employer publicizes that the employee tested positive, the test result was a false positive, and the employer disclosed the information negligently.