New Jersey Alcohol and Drugs: What you need to know

Some states have comprehensive laws that regulate or prohibit drug testing, but currently New Jersey does not have such a law.
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New Jersey courts have held that the benefits of random drug testing in the workplace must be balanced against the privacy rights of the individual. A good example of the balancing test and the criteria employers should follow can be found in Hennessey v. Coastal Eagle Point Oil, 609 A.2d 11 (N.J. 1992). In Hennessey, an oil refinery adopted a written drug policy that informed employees that they could be tested for drugs at any time. After discovering on-the-job drug use, the employer implemented a random drug-testing program. An employee selected for a random drug test tested positive. The employee brought a claim against the employer for violating the state public policy against unreasonable searches and seizures (found in Article 1, Sec. 7 of New Jersey's Constitution). The court ruled in favor of the employer, approving random drug testing for highly safety-sensitive positions.
Recognizing that employee privacy rights are implicated by drug-testing programs, the court held that the reasonableness of a drug-testing program will be determined by applying a balancing test. In this case, workplace safety outweighed the employee's privacy interests. The court further stated that an employer should:
• Use the least intrusive testing measures necessary to determine drug use.
• Maintain confidentiality of results.
• Give employees notice of drug-testing program implementation.
• Detail employee selection methods.
• Warn employees of the lingering effect of drug use.
• Explain how the sample will be analyzed.
• Notify employees of the consequences of testing ...

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