Utah Drug Testing Laws

Utah law allows drug testing -- as long as managers and supervisors are periodically tested too.

By , J.D. · UC Berkeley School of Law

Has your employer or a prospective employer in Utah asked you to take a drug test? If so, 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, state and local laws determine whether a private employer may require drug testing.

Utah allows employers to require applicants and employees to take drug tests, as long as the employer follows state procedures. Employers are not required to drug test.

Drug Testing for Utah Applicants

Utah employers may require applicants to take a drug test as a condition of employment, as long as employers and management also submit to periodic testing. Testing may be conducted only according to the employer's written policy, which must be available for review by prospective employees.

Drug Testing for Utah Employees

Employers in Utah may test employees for drugs, as long as employers and management also submit to periodic testing. Employers may require testing for these reasons:

  • to investigate possible individual employee impairment
  • to investigate an accident or theft
  • to maintain employee or public safety
  • to ensure productivity, quality of products or services, or security, and
  • as part of a rehabilitation, treatment, or counseling program in which the employee is participating as a condition of continuing employment after a positive drug test.

The employer must have a written drug test policy that has been distributed to employees. Testing must occur during or immediately after the employee's regular work schedule. An employer may take action against an employee if the employee refuses to be tested or fails the test. (A failed test is a confirmed positive result for drugs, an adulterated sample, or a substituted sample.)

Legal Claims Arising From Drug Testing

Even though Utah law allows employers 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:

  • Violation of state laws and procedures. Although an employer has the legal right to test, it must follow the state's requirements.
  • Disability discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects an applicant or employee who is taking medication for a disability. 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 inaccurate, and the employer acted maliciously in disclosing the information.
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