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The Legal and Ethical Aspect of Drug Testing in the Workplace

Essay by review  •  March 31, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  739 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,245 Views

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The Legal and Ethical Aspects of Drug Screening in the Workplace


Workplace drug screening policies in America revolve around the risk management views of corporate accountants and lawyers, and do not consider the individual rights of employees. Risk management can be defined as the process of analyzing exposure to risk and determining how to best handle that exposure ( Since companies are concerned with profitability, the risk can further be defined as what is the financial cost vs. the financial benefit of implementing a drug screening policy.

In the article "Employer Drug Testing Has Pitfalls" by Lee Fletcher (Fletcher, 2000, 1-2), he interviews 5 different companies about the downside to drug screening. Company policy makers are asked about their considerations. Their answers were all about consistent implementation in order to minimize liability. The liability had to do with poor performance at work, and the costs of increased injury. One of those interviewed was against drug screening, but not because of the ethical implication, but because of the financial risk of litigation making it too expensive.

Few would argue that drug use in the workplace affects a company's profitability, but should that be the only concern? What about the majority of a company's employees that do not use drugs? Do these companies have the right to ignore the rights of individuals not under suspicion, and the rights of those individuals that practice their drug use on occasion without any affect to their performance?

"The process is a waste of resources and a violation of civil liberties, according to the ACLU. They contend that a decade of drug testing has failed to produce evidence that testing curbs workplace problems and drug abuse. "The evidence shows that [drug testing] is not only morally wrong but a colossal waste of money," said Lewis Maltby, director of the ACLU's Workplace Rights Project. Maltby argues that people "shouldn't be fired for what they do in their off time unless it affects their job performance." Greenberg agrees that there is not enough evidence to show if testing cuts down on overall drug use, but he says it does let the company identify specific drug users. Though he supports drug testing, Eric Wish, PhD, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, said, "Still, I don't know of any evidence that someone who casually uses marijuana . . .has more accidents than anyone else."(Drug Testing [DT], 1996, 1)"

According to a study by SmithKline Beecham Clinical Laboratories, of 2million workforce drug tests that were analyzed between January to June of 1996, only 6.03% were positive (Bryan Jr., 1998, 2). What about the rights of the other 93.97% of those were clean?

Drug testing of millions of workers doesn't enhance



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