Pre-employment drug testing is a common condition for a job offer. But once an employee is hired, when is it legal to ask for a drug test at work?
State laws often limit the situations in which an employer can conduct drug testing of current employees. In general, they include situations in which safety is an issue, or when an employer suspects an employee of illegal drug use. In all cases, an employer should have a written drug-testing policy.
1. The job requires it, or poses safety risks.
State and federal regulations require workers in certain professions, like airline pilots and commercial truck drivers, to submit to random drug testing during employment.
Jobs with inherent safety risks, like the operation of heavy machinery, may also call for random or periodic drug testing, as specified in a written policy. But some states like California prohibit most types of random drug testing. You may want to check with a local employment attorney to see what the laws are where you live.
2. An employer has “reasonable suspicion” that an employee is using illegal drugs.
“Reasonable suspicion” may include physical evidence, like drugs in an employee’s locker, or an employee’s behavior, such as slurred speech or lapses in work performance. Drug tests at work based on “reasonable suspicion” are generally upheld when an employer’s suspicion is legitimate, and the testing follows an employer’s established written policy.
3. After an employee accident, or an employee’s participation in a drug rehab program.
Post-accident drug testing may be allowed, if an employer had reason to suspect drug use led to the employee’s accident. Employees enrolled in, or who have completed, a drug rehab program may also be tested. However, these drug tests must fall in line with an employer’s written policy, and an employer must consistently follow the policy — or risk getting the drug test tossed out in court.
Employers who want to keep drug testing at work as an option may want to have employees sign-off on the policy to show they understand it. Consulting an employment lawyer will also help ensure your drug testing policy conforms to the law.
Online dating is getting a little bit safer now that three major sites, Match.com, eHarmony and Spark Networks (the operator of JDate and Christian Mingle) have agreed to join forces with California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris to protect members by running background checks on prospective subscribers.
While some of the dating sites have already implemented screening of prospective members, this announcement is the first joint effort with law enforcement and Attorney General Harris is encouraging other dating sites to implement similar policies.
The participating sites will now check subscribers against national sex offender registries; anyone who is a registered sex offender will be barred from the online dating services. The sites will also be screening for violence and identity theft as well as checking the accuracy on client applications. Any criminal information gathered from the dating sites will be provided to the Attorney General’s office.
The sites will also increase their online safety tools with “rapid abuse reporting systems,” which will give members access to a website, email address and/or phone number to report suspected criminal activity. Further implementations include online dating safety education, guidance for fraud prevention and instruction on how to meet people safely offline.
The increased use of online dating sites has also brought an increase in financial scams and even physical abuse. A Match.com client sued last year, saying she was raped on a date with a repeat sex offender she had met through the site. The alleged attacker had at least six prior sex offense convictions.
In 2011, 40 million Americans used an online dating service and more than $1 billion was spent on online dating website memberships. Of couples married in the last three years, one in six met through an online dating service and one in five people have dated someone they met through an online dating site.
“Consumers should be able to use websites without the fear of being scammed or targeted,” said Attorney General Harris. “It is a priority for this office to ensure consumers are protected online, and companies who are creating in the Internet space have a continued opportunity to innovate and thrive.”
While these measures are promising, not every would-be sex offender can be screened out. Common sense is paramount, and safe online dating tips include using the online dating services email system, meeting in public places and letting friends know vital information about the person you are meeting.
A judge in Santa Barbara, CA has ordered the Boy Scouts of America to hand over the last 20 years’ worth of confidential files, detailing allegations of sexual abuse by Scout leaders around the nation.
Historically, Scout officials have resisted releasing the estimated 5,000 files, which have been kept since the 1920’s and are known as “ineligible volunteer files.” The Scouts haven’t discussed the file contents either, citing the privacy rights of victims and the fact that many files are based on unproven allegations. Scout officials further deny that the files have been used to conceal sexual abuse.
According to Deron Smith, public relations director for Boy Scouts of America “These files exist solely to keep out individuals whose actions are inconsistent with the standards of Scouting, and Scouts are safer because of them.”
But in a negligence lawsuit brought against the Scouts by the family of a California boy molested by his Boy Scout troop leader in 2007, the boy’s lawyers contend these files will expose the Scouts’ “culture of hidden sexual abuse” and its failure to warn about pedophiles in the ranks of one of the nation’s oldest youth organizations. “They have created these ticking time bombs who are walking through society, and nobody knows their identities except the Scouts,” said Timothy Hale, one of the lawyers for the Santa Barbara County boy.
The lawsuit contends that the Boy Scouts knew, or should have known that Al Stein, a volunteer troop leader who had a history of inappropriate behavior with children and had put the unnamed victim boy at risk. The suit further alleges that the Scouts asked the victim’s mother not to call the police following her son’s claim of abuse, stating that the Scouts conduct their own “internal investigation.” Lawyers for the family say this is evidence of the Scout’s efforts to conceal widespread sexual abuse.
In 2008, Stein was charged with committing a lewd act upon a child and two child pornography charges for photographs he took of a boy. In 2009, Stein pleaded no contest and was put on probation. Authorities later found pictures of nude children on Stein’s cell phone and he was sentenced to two years in prison, but was paroled early. According to Stein’s attorney, Stein is currently living in a motel with other sex offenders.
The trial is set for April in Santa Barbara County.
A proposal to expand California’s “ban the box” policy was introduced on February 24th by California Assemblymember Roger Dickinson. AB 1831 is modeled on the “ban the box” hiring process for state and public employees adopted in 2010. AB 1831 aims at removing the criminal background check requirements from the initial hiring process for city and county workers across the state.
“This bill would prohibit a local agency from inquiring into or considering the criminal history of an applicant or including any inquiry about criminal history on any initial employment application. The bill would authorize a local agency to consider an applicant’s criminal history after the applicant’s qualifications have been screened and the agency has determined the applicant meets the minimum employment requirements, as stated in any notice issued for the position.”
Proponents of the bill claim it would reduce unnecessary barriers to employment for the one in four adult Californians who have an arrest or conviction record.
Research conducted over the past 20 years reveals that the recidivism rates of ex-offenders have held steady over the past 17 years. A Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Recidivism Study of Released Prisoners found that 67.5% of prisoners released in 1994 were rearrested within 3 years. And a 2011 Pew Center study found that recidivism rates have held steady since 1994.
If passed, California would join five states and over 30 counties across the U.S. that have adopted similar legislation.