Drug Testing

Drug Testing The ethics of drug testing has become an increased concern for many companies in the recent years. More companies are beginning to use it and more people are starting more to have problems with it. The tests are now more than ever seen as a way to stop the problems of drug abuse in the workplace. This brings up a very large question. Is drug testing an ethical way to decide employee drug use? It is also very hard to decide if the test is an invasion of employee privacy. The ethical status of workplace drug testing can be expressed as a question of competing interests, between the employers right to use testing to reduce drug related harms and maximize profits, over against the employees right to privacy, particularly with regard to drug use which occurs outside the workplace.

(Cranford 2) The rights of the employee have to be considered. The Supreme Court case, Griswold vs. Connecticut outlines the idea that every person is entitled to a privacy zone. However this definition covers privacy and protection from government. To work productively especially when the work may be physical it is nearly impossible to keep ones privacy.

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The relationship between employer and employee is based on a contract. The employee provides work for the employer and in return he is paid. If the employee cannot provide services because of problems such as drug abuse, then he is violating the contract. Employers have the right to know many things about their employees. Job skills and training can even be investigated by the employer. The employee is to perform services and these services must be done in a certain manner.

Someone who is incoherent because of drug abuse cannot be a pilot for example. This is why employers can test to see if characteristics or tendencies would affect performance. An employee may not want to give a urine or blood sample. The employee may not want to include all of their references but this is besides the fact that an employer is entitled to them. More and more employers are starting to feel this way.

A 1996 survey by the American Management Association found 81 percent of major U.S. companies had drug-testing programs at that time compared with 78 percent in 1995 and just 22 percent in 1987. (May 2) The employer has a right to only certain information and the line must also be drawn in the procedure to obtain the information. For example a polygraph has been known to make mistakes so this cannot be the sole source of information. The procedure in which the tests are taken is a major concern.

This decision went all the way to the Supreme Court. Samuel K. Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association found that urine and blood tests were minimally obtrusive. The taking of blood was found to cause no real pain or risk and is commonly done in ordinary life. The taking of urine in a medical situation with no observation was also found not to cause intrusions.

Drug tests check for illegal substances. With this exactness drug testing is the most efficient way to find which employees are using drugs. While some could argue that a certain employee’s performance on drugs would be below the level of another employee’s performance that is not on drugs but is just a poor performer. This leads into the most important point of the entire essay that employees have the right to a workplace that is free from the many problems of drugs. It could possibly be argued that since employers have to allow their employees time off and times of decreased performance due to problems such as sickness and pregnancy that they should allow excuses for drugs.

However drug use is an addiction. Depending on the addiction it must be met frequently. Problems such as sickness go away but addictions are constant and not allowable. The work that the employee puts in should be their best. Since the employer has purchased the employees time, the employer has a proprietary right to ensure that the time purchased is used as efficiently as possible.(Cranford 6) Many people have a problem with employees having to choose between their job and their drugs.

For example what if the person is hooked and cannot do anything about their addiction. Should the person have to live with no means of income because of their addiction? It is a difficult question to answer. Addicts are people who have needs like anyone else. Should they be denied the means to basic necessities such as food and shelter that a job would provide? The solution to this problem should be found in treatment to the individual while they maintain their job. The drug testing itself forces employees to confront the problems that they have.

It is possible that people will see companies as cruel when they try to get the most production out of their people. However, a work force that is clean and sober is a win for both sides. The financial status of the company is inherently intertwined with the good of employees; as the corporation becomes increasingly profitable, employees are increasingly benefited.(Cranford 8) Some parties argue placing employees in a position where they must choose between maintaining their privacy or losing their jobs is fundamentally coercive.(Cranford 6) This decision is easy to make for most employees and they take the test. Those people who already are in employment and refuse become suspect. People who are applying for jobs and refuse are not considered at all or seen on an extremely negative scale.

Another argument that has a number of holes through it is the idea that what an employee does on their own time is their own decision. This should be allowable for most things even those on the borderline. An employer may not want their employees to go hunting or skydiving on the weekends because of the potential for harm to the investment a company has in an employee. However, this should not be enforceable because it has no everyday effect on their work. Unless the person perishes in a crash, skydiving has no effect on a person’s Monday morning management skills.

Now if an employee is involved with illegal drugs on their own time the effects linger in their system. Even when there are no drugs in the system this is when the body craves more to satisfy their addiction. An addiction is not able to stay just within the bounds of the employees own time. There should be an outline for giving the tests. The tests should be given only when the behavior is unusual and bizarre. The tests should be given without prior notice to reduce the chance that employees could foil the test.

The employees that fail the test should be allowed to keep their jobs while receiving their treatment. Termination should only come after treatment has been refused or failed. Social Issues.

Drug Testing

.. obable cause can also lead to the absence of Equal protection under the law, the Fourteenth Amendment (Holtorf, 135). “The Fourteenth Amendment was cited as protection against selection of a group of athletes for testing by the National Collegiate Athletic Association without demonstrating a likelihood that drug use was prevalent in that population” (Holtorf, 136). Drug tests today are considerably weak. Mistakes and errors swarm the vast business of drug testing. “Clinical laboratories are not experienced with the special requirements for specimen collection, analysis, storage, documentation, transport, and handling” (McBay, 33B).

Often times, simple mistakes such as mislabeling or reporting errors are the reason for a positive turnout on a drug test. “Because drug testing has become a very competitive industry, laboratories are implementing cost cutting measures and attempting to test increasing numbers of specimens quicker and cheaper, which is causing testing accuracy to worsen even further” (McBay, 33B). Often times, a positive result has to be protested in order to have the test sent to a more elaborate, expensive laboratory. An example of this was with a Heavyweight boxing match in which the boxer, Tim Witherspoon was knocked out in the first round by James Smith and a week after the fight Witherspoon was tested positive for Marijuana use. Witherspoon protested this and it was later found that there was an error in identifying the specimen.

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“Dr. Don H. Catlin, chief of clinical pharmacology at the University of California at Los Angeles, says that drug-testing firms “vary tremendously in quality from laboratory to laboratory as well as within the same laboratory on a day-to-day basis””(Berger, 42). The reason is because the person reviewing the tests needs to be both competent and knowledgeable in this field considering that this is someones future at stake. “The bulk of the errors could be attributed to inadequate personnel, poor management, broken chain of custody, faulty maintenance, and faulty admissions of reports and records, rather than the tests themselves” (Holtorf, 63). Lack of education and experience often play a part in the accuracy ratings of the different institutions.

“In the Spring of 1985, experts at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta found a high rate of inaccuracy among the nations drug-testing laboratories. A study of 13 laboratories serving 262 drug-treatment centers in the United States revealed that all had performed unsatisfactorily and had failed to identify correctly even half of the samples for four out of five drugs tested.” (Berger, 43). “Only 85 of the estimated 1,200 laboratories in the United States meet federal standards for accuracy, qualified lab personnel, and proper documentation and record keeping” (Holtorf, 60). Society is often misled on the accuracy of the laboratories and many of the offices are performing much below the level in which they are portrayed. True results would be damaging to a laboratorys reputation and to their business (Holtorf, 61).

One of the newest drug testing techniques being used is Hair testing. This form of drug testing is considered less invasive and harder to pass. Hair testing can obtain information on drugs that were done as long as three months prior to the day of testing. The question of discrimination, accuracy and purpose of the testing raise the most questions. Contamination of the hair is also a factor in the decline of accuracy of this test. The hair of African-Americans binds drugs into the roots of the hair ten to fifty times more than that of a Caucasian (Holtorf, 104). This is extremely discriminatory because of the greater risk an African-American will have in taking a Hair test. “Some tests have shown that coarse hair shows much higher concentrations of drugs than lighter hair after ingestion at the same amount of drugs” (Stencel, 199).

There have been numerous studies conducted that show that when two individuals ingest the same amount of drugs, the darker complected, darker haired one will show greater concentration of the drug. In two different cases two African-American women were tested positive to Drug use through hair testing and now are pending investigations. “Last August, Althea Jones and Adrian McClure, along with six other Chicago African-Americans who say they received erroneous hair test results when applying for the Police Academy, filed complaints of racial discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The group is considering suing both the city of Chicago and Psychemedics” (Kean, 1) Many scientists have confirmed that there is no true distinction between the drug being smoked or being in the same area or room for a great duration of time in the result of the hair test. Also, because of the low level of tolerance in the testing even a second hand experience to a drug such as Marijuana can cause a positive result in a drug test. Dyeing of hair also has different effects for types of hair.

Using bleach, perming or excessive UV exposure can decrease the chance of testing positive in a Hair test. “For these reasons, the ACLU strongly opposes hair testing. “Every reputable scientific organization in America rejects the use of hair testing for employment purposes,” (Stencel, 199). “The Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Transportation, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the Society of Forensic Toxicologists all raise serious questions about the accuracy of hair testing. “The consensus of scientific opinion is that there are still too many unanswered questions for it to be used in employment situations,” said Edward Cone, the National Institute of Drug Abuses leading researcher on the test, in June 1998. In a recent interview, Cone said that hair testing “is not ready for use yet, where peoples lives are at stake” (Kean, 2).

Our Politicians in the United States are not tested for Drugs. This is quite alarming that the idols that we vote into office and make out laws are somehow above the law when in comes to Drug testing. “In late September, the White House refused requests from congressional investigators seeking information about the jobs held by those in the special drug testing program. “Your request amounts to asking us to be complicitous in a methodical, broad scale invasion of privacy,” White House Counsel Jack Quinn wrote in a letter to House Civil Service Subcommittee Chairman John Mica.” (York, 7). Even the man who the leader of our great nation.

The one man who holds the greatest power and receives the most respect in the world has fallen into drugs. “There is evidence that Bill Clinton himself attended some of Lasaters parties. “Id never seen the governor around coke unless he was around Lasater.” Brown told Tyrell that he saw Clinton “stoned” but never actually witnessed the governor ingesting drugs” (York, 7). “While Congress pushed for more small businesses to do drug testing, it refused to submit to drug testing, it refused to submit to drug testing for congressmen and their staffs, claiming it was too undignified and possibly unconstitutional” (Stencel, 205). It isnt fair for a Congress that enacts laws to require the people to undergo drug tests not submit themselves to the same level of testing.

Drug testing in our country does have its benefits. Yet there are so many disadvantages and holes in Drug testing that it costs our country billions of dollars every year. Employment Drug testing is a proven failure, the only gain is the gain of public funds and reputations that politicians have gained through their active role in Drug testing. Drug testing is not decreasing drug abuse, it is being used to discriminate thousands and ruin lives of millions of others. The Fourth Amendment is a cornerstone of our counties Democracy, Drug testing needs to be removed from our everyday lives to ensure that we maintain this Democracy and continue to live our lives the “American way” as the framers of the Constitution intended. Bibliography American Civil Liberties Union.

New Jersey judge blocks drug testing of student athletes. New Jersey, 1997. Berger, Gilda. Drug Testing. New York: Impact book, 1987. Holtorf, Kent.

Ur-ine Trouble. Scottsdale: Stephanie Cartozian, 1998. Horgan, J. Test Negative–A look at the “evidence” justyifying illicit-drug tests. Scientific American, March 1990; 262(3):18-22. James, Jeannette C. “The constitutionality of federal employee drug testing.” The Amerifcan University Law Review, Fall 1998.

Kean, Leslie. “More than a hair off.” The Progressive. 63 no.5, 32-34. May 1999. McBay, AJ.

Drug-analysis technology-pitfalls and problems of drug testing. Clin Chem. 1987;33:33B-40B. Stencel, Sandra L. Issues for Debate in American Public Policy. Washington D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 1998.

York, Byron. “Fast times at white house high” The American Spectator. V29, pp.20-26. 1996.


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