In California, businesses are allowed to drug test their employees. There is, of course, a fine line that employers must be aware of in order to ensure employee privacy and other legal rights. Indeed, few areas of employment law cause as much concern to California employees as the increasing tendency on the part of employers to insist upon often invasive drug testing of employees and applicants for employment.

The details (when, where, why, who) behind a company’s decision to drug test employees can greatly affect whether the company is running afoul of the law.

Privacy and Drug Testing

In the Los Angeles workplace, you rightfully have a certain ‘Expectation of Privacy’. At the core of the issue is how much privacy you are entitled to weigh against the company’s need to know about the status of your drug use. Generally speaking, you can reasonably expect not to be intrusively questioned about your health, your diet, or your hobbies. It is important to note that some jobs have less ‘expectation of privacy’ than others. For example, security officers who wear a body cam will have no expectation of privacy during body-cam hours. When it comes to the hiring process, where the applicant’s privacy rights are not as solidified, companies are generally allowed to drug test applicants prior to offering them a job.

Random employee drug testing can be a tricky issue for employers and lead to potential lawsuits, but there are certain workplaces where workers can expect to submit to random drug tests. These industries include the airline or transportation industry.  In the customer service industry, an employer may need a stronger reason to ask an employee to submit to a random drug test.

What’s more, state and federal law prohibits employers from singling out groups of people based on protected characteristics. As always, workplace discrimination is against the law.

When Drug Testing Targets Certain Groups

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects certain classes of people against workplace discrimination. As we have discussed in other post, FEHA prohibit discrimination based on gender, sexuality, race, national origin, pregnancy status, or military status, to name a few. Put simply, it is unlawful for a California employer to require random drug tests of only certain groups of employees; such as pregnant women or African American workers. Furthermore, an employer who requires a worker to submit to a drug test because of membership in a protected class is breaking California law. If this is happening in your workplace, reach out to an experienced employment attorney to discuss your legal rights.

For more information on privacy rights, employee drug testing, and the California workplace, contact the employment lawyers at LOEAB Law today.