Washington Alcohol & Drugs laws & safety compliance analysis

Washington Alcohol & Drugs: What you need to know

State Requirements

Washington regulates drug testing of state employees by state agencies.

Drug Testing: State Agencies
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Washington regulates drug testing of state employees by state agencies (WA Admin. Code Secs. 356-46-125, 356-05-128). Under those rules, an agency may require a specific employee to submit to a drug test only if:

  • The agency has specific, objective reasons for believing that the employee's job performance is impaired because of controlled substances, and the agency states those reasons in writing.
  • The employee holds a safety-sensitive job, i.e., holds a job in which impairment would endanger his or her or others' physical safety.
  • The agency has a specific written drug policy that authorizes drug testing, establishes procedures for conducting tests, assures confidentiality, and has been submitted to the collective bargaining representative, if any.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled that a city's preemployment drug testing policy violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution when it was applied to an applicant for a non-safety-sensitive position. The 9th Circuit--which covers Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington--held that the city, as an employer, failed to articulate any special need to screen, without suspicion, the applicant for a library page position. The court held that the library page position was not a "safety-sensitive" position and, therefore, did not warrant preemployment drug screening without suspicion. According to the court, jobs are considered safety-sensitive if they involve work that may pose a great danger to the public, such as the operation of railway cars. This ruling, which applies only to government employers, ...

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