Broadly speaking, the following types of state legislation can affect workplace drug policies:
- State and local laws regulating drug testing
- State workers' compensation laws
- State unemployment insurance laws
Additionally, state and local legislation related to legalization of marijuana must be considered when providing education to employees. Although it may be legal to use marijuana in a particular state, that might not affect a “no use” policy.
Types of State Laws
Many states and U.S. territories have their own laws and regulations dictating when and how workplace drug testing should be conducted. Some also have laws that require state and local contractors to develop drug-free workplace policies, similar to requirements of federal contractors.
No one set of rules and regulations applies throughout the country. Some states, such as Louisiana, allow drug testing in virtually every type of business and in both the public and private sectors. Other states, such as Maine, restrict who can be tested, how they can be tested, and what kinds of rehabilitation and disciplinary options can result from a positive test.
The best way to learn more about any state and local drug testing laws that apply to your business is to contact a local employment attorney.
In the interests of promoting safer and healthier workplaces, some states offer employers with drug-free workplace programs a discount on their workers’ compensation insurance premiums. For the same reasons, many states deny workers' compensation benefits to workers whose injuries are determined to be the result of substance use. State laws and requirements related to workers’ compensation change frequently, so the best way to get accurate information is to contact your state government.
Some states have laws and rules that may limit or deny unemployment benefits to individuals who are fired because of a positive drug test. For example, New York state law stipulates that an employee may be “disqualified” from receiving benefits for “testing positive on a drug test or for using drugs and alcohol in violation of workplace policy.” Many other states have similar regulations. You can obtain additional information about your state's rules from your state office of unemployment.