Mandating workplace drug testing

Employees and employers may make written requests to the Commissioner of Labor that an occupation be designated (or not be designated) as high-risk or safety-sensitive.Employers who intend to institute drug testing of current employees and who are not acting under reasonable suspicion or federal mandate must first submit a request to the Commissioner for certification that the occupation is high-risk or safety-sensitive.In some circumstances, this may include providing for a leave of absence so that the employee can receive necessary treatment.Current users of illegal drugs, or individuals who are drinking at the work site, are not protected under the ADA.Connecticut’s law does not preclude an employer from conducting medical screenings, with the written consent of its employees, to monitor exposure to toxic or other unhealthy substances in the workplace.Further, it does not restrict an employer’s ability to prohibit the use of intoxicating substances during work hours or to discipline an employee for being under the influence of intoxicating substances during work hours.

An employer cannot rely on the fact that an occupation is on the list to justify implementing a random testing program.

Urine is the authorized specimen except for alcohol testing, where breath or saliva may be used. Department of Health and Human Services may be used to test specimens for federally mandated testing.

A two-step testing procedure is required, utilizing a screening test and a confirmation test. Specimens testing positive on both tests must undergo a “medical review” by a licensed physician, who is commonly referred to as a “medical review officer” or “MRO.”For employers involved in inter-state or intra-state transportation, the U. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations require that transportation workers in safety-sensitive jobs be subject to various types of drug testing (pre-employment, random, reasonable cause, periodic, and post-accident).

Second, the Connecticut law provides that no employer may determine an employee’s eligibility for promotion, additional compensation, transfer, termination, disciplinary or other adverse personnel action solely on the basis of a positive urinalysis drug test result unless: Reputable commercial labs are aware of the requirements and generally will split the sample and run an appropriate confirming test if necessary.

The law further provides that no employer, employer representative, agent or designee engaged in a urinalysis drug testing program shall directly observe an applicant or employee in the process of producing their urine specimen.

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