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California Alcohol and Drugs: What you need to know

Some states have comprehensive laws that specifically regulate or prohibit drug testing in the private sector, but California does not have such a law. However, the California state constitution does have a “right to privacy” guarantee that has been used to challenge drug testing programs in the private sector. This guarantee prohibits unreasonable intrusions into private matters, and under the California constitution (unlike the federal constitution), it applies to private sector employers as well as the government. While this does not prohibit testing, it means that employers should be particularly careful when implementing a testing program. As a general rule, employers should have a “reasonable basis” for testing and test procedures should guarantee accuracy and reliability. A private employer should be able to justify a testing program as protecting the health and safety of employees and the public. California's laboratory licensing law (CA Bus. and Prof. Code Sec. 1206 et seq.) prohibits any drug test not performed by a certified laboratory or by a licensed physician. Testing policies must also meet the requirements of any applicable federal law.
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The State Personnel Board has adopted rules that regulate drug testing by state agencies. The rules allow agencies to test applicants for civil service positions if the “sensitivity” of the positions and the consequences of drug-related behavior are documented, and drug testing has been shown to be job related. Provisions on testing procedures, confidentiality, and appeal of test results are also included in the rules (CA State Pers. Board Rules Tit. 2 Sec. 213).
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