If your employer or prospective employer in Georgia 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.
Georgia, like a number of other states, has a drug-free workplace program regulating drug testing. Employers who establish such a program, as certified by the state’s Board of Workers’ Compensation, can qualify for a discount on their workers’ compensation insurance premiums. However, employers must follow the state’s rules to get their discount. In Georgia, employers must test in certain circumstances, and must observe certain procedures intended to protect employee and applicant rights.
Georgia employers who have a drug-free workplace program are required to drug test applicants who have received conditional offers of employment. More limited testing is allowed if it is conducted on the basis of reasonable classifications of job positions. For example, an employer that doesn’t want to test every job applicant could instead test only those applicants whose jobs would require potentially dangerous activities (such as operating heavy machinery or carrying a weapon).
If an employer requires applicants to take a test, it must include a notice in its job announcements or ads regarding the testing requirement.
Georgia employers with a drug-free workplace program must test employees in the following circumstances:
In addition, employers may conduct random drug testing.
An employer that conducts drug testing must distribute a written policy regarding the testing, and employees must have at least 60 days’ notice of the policy. Employees who test positive have five days to contest or explain the result.
The employer’s program must include employee assistance (EAP) resources, employee education, and supervisor training. State laws also require employers to use certain procedures for gathering specimens, testing, maintaining confidentiality, and so on.
Have you been illegally asked or required to take a drug test? Even though Georgia law allows employer to drug test, 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: