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Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace -- Objectives, Pitfalls, and Guidelines

NCJ Number
American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Volume: 15 Issue: 4 Dated: (1989) Pages: 413-427
R S Schottenfeld
Date Published
15 pages
This paper examines the historical development of drug testing, motivations underlying proposals to implement workplace testing for drugs and alcohol, types of testing programs currently in use, and potential pitfalls of workplace drug testing.
The paper looks at basic principles involved in disputes about the legality of workplace drug testing programs. Seven problems associated with employee drug testing are identified: (1) testing may lead to the abandonment of effective and less problematic approaches; (2) testing may focus on drug abuse and divert attention from alcohol abuse; (3) testing may be used to intimidate employees; (4) testing may lead to the mistaken identification of employees and applicants as substance abusers who do not have drug or alcohol problems; (5) testing may detect medically prescribed drug use unrelated to an employee's job performance and may lead to discrimination against employees with medical problems; (6) testing may create a pool of unemployable individuals; and (7) testing may unnecessarily infringe on the private lives of employees. Legal and ethical issues raised by employee drug testing are discussed, and guidelines to ensure fair workplace drug testing programs are offered. 13 references


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