The state of Georgia only has mandatory drug testing for some state and municipal employees, including public school teachers, bus drivers, and certain positions within the state government. There is no mandatory testing law for private employers.
However, Georgia does offer employers a discount on workers’ compensation premiums if they implement a drug-free workplace program that includes employee drug tests, the rules for which we discuss below.
When can private employers drug test applicants or employees?
Employers in Georgia who participate in a drug-free workplace program must test applicants, but can only do so after giving them employment offers conditional on a clean drug test. Some employers undergo this process with all applicants offered a position while others test only potential employees who will work in certain departments or who will do certain tasks, such as drive a company vehicle.
For employees already on the job, drug-free workplace programs certified by the Board of Workers’ Compensation require testing when:
- A workplace accident forces the employee to miss time on the job
- Supervisors have documented, reasonable suspicion the employee is using drugs
- The test is a part of an ongoing fitness-for-duty assessment or annual medical exam
- After attending a drug rehabilitation program, if the employee enrolled because of a failed a drug test (If the employee entered voluntarily [not after failing a test], the employer does not have to test the employee.)
Employers in Georgia may perform random drug testing, assuming the process used ensures true randomness.
Do employers have to follow specific drug testing procedures?
Private employers in Georgia must follow certain procedures for drug testing, outlined by O.C.G.A. § 34-9-415. If the employer requires a drug test for any new hires, the employer must state this on the job posting.
Any employer that participates in the drug-free workplace program must also post or distribute written notice of the possibility of testing within 60 days of its first participation, and distribute this information to any new employees after that point.
In addition, employers must offer supervisor training and employee education about drug use. Employee assistance program (EAP) resources are also a key part of the drug-free workplace program.
There are also laws regulating how employers collect and perform drug tests. For this reason, many employers outsource the task to a local health care provider or laboratory.
What are the consequences of testing positive?
If you test positive for illegal or prescription drugs, you have five days to appeal the results, explain why you tested positive, or prove you have a prescription for the medication. In many cases, employers will allow you to enter a rehabilitation program available through their employee assistance program in lieu of termination. Once you have completed rehabilitation, you can return to work. Remember that you will be subject to drug testing after you return.
It is also important to note that you employer cannot legally force you to submit a sample. You can refuse to take the test and enroll in a rehabilitation program voluntarily. Remember that refusing to submit a sample could lead to termination.
How can Pak and McRae Law, LLC help?
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