Companies considering drug and alcohol testing policies should understand that an employer can only require an employee, or prospective employee, to submit to chemical testing if the company’s policies and procedures meet specific legal requirements. The law on this subject in Minnesota is comprehensive, and compliance can be confusing. The policy should be uniformly implemented against all the company’s employees, or at least against all employees in a given job classification. The law imposes strict requirements for the policy’s content, notice to employees, type of lab testing, treatment of employee data, and the timing of tests. Random testing policies can only be enforced against employees considered to be in “safety-sensitive” positions.
Since alcohol and drug addiction can be considered a qualified disability under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), the employer should tread carefully before disciplining or terminating a current employee solely for having a positive drug test. When a company has reason to believe that an employee is chemically dependent, the company should provide the employee an opportunity to seek treatment for his or her drug addiction, at the employee’s expense, and only take steps to discipline or terminate the employee if the employee refuses to take steps to address his or her chemical dependency.
Companies should consult with an attorney to assist in crafting legally compliant drug and alcohol workplace policies. Companies are also advised to call an attorney before disciplining or terminating an employee for suspected drug abuse. Call Wagner, Falconer and Judd for assistance.