What employees should know about alcohol testing

Alcoholism is a terrible and pervasive disease that can ruin the lives of those who suffer from it. What’s even worse, many consider it to be a choice rather than a form of mental illness that requires treatment like a host of maladies that affect one’s decision making. While there are many who deal with it without substantial assistance from their employer, there are still those who need their employer to be understanding and accommodating to the extent the law allows.

If this describes your situation, it is essential to know your rights; whether you are applying for a job, have received a conditional offer. As you learn the process and the culture of your soon-to-be employer, you can take solace in knowing that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides a number of protections, especially when it comes to alcohol testing.

As such, this post will provide some basic boundaries for alcohol testing.

Applicants – Employers may not ask disability related questions as part of the interview process.  Indeed, an employer is entitled to ask whether an applicant drinks alcohol, but may not use follow up questions to probe into how often the applicant drinks, whether they drink at parties or during sporting events, as these questions may require information about a disability in order to answer.

Prospects who have received an offer – It is not uncommon for a job offer to be conditioned on the passage of a drug and alcohol test. However, the testing must be relevant to the particular job standing or a safety standard.

Current employees –Employees cannot be under the influence while on duty, but they can request time off to take part in rehabilitation programs.  

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