Arizona Drug Testing in the Workplace

arizona drug testingFederal law mostly leaves it up to individual states to determine their workplace drug testing procedures and statutes.  Arizona has codified a drug testing statute.  This blogpost will discuss these statutes and how they are implemented into practice by employers.

Arizona workplace drug testing law can be found beginning in Arizona Revised Statute section 23-493. Arizona does not have drug testing laws that prohibit or limit an employer’s right to test.  The only exception is in regards to school transportation employees who are required to submit probable cause and post-accident testing. This allows the employer the autonomy to implement a policy that works for them and their needs. The drug testing statues will shield an employer from liability as long as their policy meets the statute requirements.

Format of the Arizona Employer Drug Policy

An Arizona employer drug policy must be in a written format.  This written policy must be distributed to employees at the onset of employment.  The policy can be in the same format as other employee policies, like in an employee handbook or manual or posting physically around the workplace.

The policy must include a statement of the employer’s policy respecting drug and alcohol use.  There needs to be a description of the employees or prospective employees who are subject to testing and the circumstances under which testing is required.  There needs to be a list of substances which are to be tested and a description of the methods and collection. This can include whether the testing will be on-site or if an employee will go to an off-site testing facility.  Consequences of testing positive for a prohibited substance must be included and the consequences of what refusing to test must also be included. An explanation for the right of an employee to request or obtain the written test results and a right of an employee to request or receive an explanation of test results must be in the policy.  Lastly, the employer must state that the results will be kept as confidential as practicable.

It is completely legal to require applicants for employment to undergo drug testing.  An employer has the right to refuse to hire applicants who decline to be tested or who test positive.

When Can Arizona Employers Require Employees to Undergo Drug Testing?

Arizona employers can require employees to undergo drug testing for “any job-related purpose consistent with business necessity.” This can be seen as a pretty broad phrase.  These purposes can include:

  • Investigation of a workplace accident
  • Investigation of possible employee impairment
  • Maintenance for safety employees, especially those who are required to operate machinery or vehicles
  • Reasonable suspicion of an employee who is affected by drug or alcohol use that may adversely affect job performance
  • Random basis

In November 2010, Arizona voters voted to decriminalize medical marijuana.  The Arizona medical marijuana law prohibits employers from discriminating against an Arizona registered medical marijuana cardholder.  This is unless the employee possesses, ingests, or is impaired by medical marijuana.  Arizona employers may discriminate against a cardholder if the employer would lose monetary or licensing related benefits under federal law regulation.

The medical marijuana law specifically did not define “impairment”, since drug testing methods cannot establish impairment based upon the presence of marijuana metabolites or components alone. In 2011, the Arizona legislature implemented an amendment that defines “impairment” if the employer acts in good faith. “Good faith” means reasonable reliance on fact, or that which is held out to be factual, without the intent to deceive or be deceived and without reckless or malicious disregard for the truth.

Employers are empowered by a broad ability to implement drug testing procedures but statute in Arizona still defines what needs to be in those policies.

Click here for information on the Arizona employment discrimination statute.