What should I know about drug testing in the workplace?

Authored By: GeorgiaLegalAid.org
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Drug testing

Drug testing laws at work in Georgia


What are the drug testing laws in Georgia?

In general, there are no laws in Georgia that prohibit drug testing. Employers are generally free to make whatever drug testing policy they want, as long as it doesn’t violate federal law. Under federal law, certain industries have strict drug testing rules. Federal law also says that drug testing cannot be discriminatory and it can’t violate your privacy in certain ways.


Georgia employers can make whatever drug policy they would like (or no policy at all). BUT if your employer adopts Georgia’s Drug Free Workplace policy, they must follow certain rules.


What are the rules for drug testing before I am hired?

An employer who has a drug-free workplace program cannot randomly drug test applicants. 


They must either: 

  • Test all applicants who they give conditional offers to, or

  • Test all applicants who they give conditional offers to for certain job categories. An employer might test every applicant for a job that involves dangerous work.


The employer must include notice of drug testing in the job announcement. 


What are the rules for drug testing when I have a job?

If you work for an employer who has a drug-free workplace program, your employer can test you if:

  • You had an accident that resulted in time off work. 

  • You are suspected of drug use. The reason for your employer’s suspicions must be documented. You must be able to see the documentation if you ask.

  • Your employer routinely schedules a fitness-for-duty medical exam,

  • When you return to work after rehab. 


Your employer may also conduct random drug testing.

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What are my rights and responsibilities with workplace drug testing?

You have the right to get notice of the workplace’s drug testing policy. The policy must be in writing and if you are an employee, you must get at least 60 days’ notice before the policy goes into effect.


If you are an employee and you test positive for drugs, you have five days to dispute or explain the result.


If you believe you were drug tested illegally by your employer, you have the right to pursue a legal claim. 

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What are employers’ rights and responsibilities with workplace drug testing?

Most employers have the right to adopt whatever drug testing policy they want. Employers are responsible for drug testing employees in a way that is not discriminatory. Employers are responsible for overly invasive of their privacy. 


Employers who adopt a drug-free workplace program are responsible for:

  • Putting the policy in writing,

  • Giving the policy to every employee,

  • Giving employees at least 60 days notice of the policy,

  • Notifying potential applicants of the drug policy.

  • Doing the test according to the drug-free workplace rules:

    • In a way that protects privacy,

    • By someone authorized to do the drug tests,

    • Results analyzed at an approved laboratory. 


Employers who have a drug-free workplace program must also provide:

  • Employee assistance resources,

  • Employee education, and 

  • Supervisor training.

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What can I do if my employer drug tested me illegally?

If you believe an employer drug tested you illegally, you may have a claim against them. Some ways that drug testing might violate your rights include:

  • The drug testing was discriminatory.

    • It is illegal to single out a particular group or person because of their race, sex, religion, or nationality.

    • Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is illegal to:

      • Drug test someone or fire them for taking drugs that are prescribed to them for a disability. 

      • fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote someone because they have a history of substance use.

      • fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote someone because they are enrolled in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program.

  • The employer has a drug-free workplace program and they did not follow rules of the program. That might mean:

    • They did not provide notice of the test,

    • They did it in a way that violated your privacy,

    • They did not have a valid reason to do the drug test.

  • The employer tells others the result of your test if the result may not be right. 


You should consult a lawyer about what your next steps should be.

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Last Review and Update: Apr 17, 2022
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