Drug Testing --- Some Key Issues
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Drug Testing --- Some Key Issues. Who get tested? a) Applicants (Adverse impact issues, job relevancy) b) Current employees (Wrongful discharge claims, union contract limitations) 2) What types of testing procedures are used? a) Random (possible 4th Amendment violation)

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Drug Testing --- Some Key Issues

  • Who get tested?

  • a) Applicants (Adverse impact issues, job relevancy)

  • b) Current employees (Wrongful discharge claims, union contract limitations)

  • 2) What types of testing procedures are used?

  • a) Random (possible 4th Amendment violation)

  • b) “For cause” testing (Method of establishing reasonable suspicion, differential treatment concerns)

  • 3) What type of organization is drug testing?

  • a) Public (4th Amendment concerns, right to privacy issues)

  • b) Private


Drug Testing --- Some Key Issues (cont.)

  • What type of test is used?

  • a) Sensitivity, accuracy, reliability

  • b) Cross-reactivity concerns (Effects of other substances)

  • Confirmatory test used?

  • * Thin layer chromatography (TLC) [Relatively cheap, requires visual comparisons)

  • * Immunoassay Tests (EIA, RIA)

  • * Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) [Most reliable and costly]

  • 5) In what types of jobs are is drug testing being used?

  • a) Safety concerns (e.g., accidents)

  • b) Access to sensitive information

  • Legal liability

  • a) For not testing

  • b) Inform other companies of those scoring positive on drug tests in certain jobs


Cross-Reactivity Examples (The industry standard for drug testing is the "NIDA Five", five chemical classes that include Amphetamines, Cocaine, Marijuana, PCP and Morphine)

Pain killers with Ibuprofen (e.g., Advil, Nuprin): Marijuana

Cold medicines and decongestants (e.g., Contact, Sudafed) Amphetamines

Cough syrups: Opiates

Antibiotics: Cocaine

Poppy seed bagels: Marijuana

Codeine: Morphine, Heroin, Opium


  • Cost to U.S. Society by Drug Abuse = Estimated 50 billion (figure reported by J. Michael Walsh former Director of Applied Research and the Office of Workplace Initiatives at NIDA before a federal court)

  • President George Bush Sr. raised the estimate up to 60-100 billion

  • Where did this estimate originate?

  • RTI Report (1982): Survey completed by 3,700 households

  • Those who had ever smoked marijuana daily (20/30 days) had household income levels 28% less than those households that never smoked marijuana daily (reduced productivity due to daily marijuana use)

  • Extrapolated to the general population – total productivity “loss” = 26 billion

  • Adding the estimated costs of other factors (drug-related crimes, accidents, medical care) = 47 billion (Cost to society)


Other Related Issues (figure reported by J. Michael Walsh former Director of Applied Research and the Office of Workplace Initiatives at NIDA before a federal court)

  • Number of tests performed

  • Human error (e.g., mislabeled, mixed samples)

  • Chain of command concerns

  • Equipment issues (e.g., calibration)

  • Standard for positive drug test scores: None exist

  • National certification of licensing and certification of drug testing labs


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