Alcohol and drug testing program

6 June 2016

The debate on employee alcohol and drug testing programs has been an issue of controversy across the political, social, professional, and economic fronts of the American community. It has been sufficiently claimed by proponents of alcohol and drug test programs that an alcohol and drugs-free workplace is the roadmap to effective and reliable economic development in the organization (Ward, 1991).

On the other hand, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of the united states of America among other labor laws prohibits discriminative employment practices based either on real or perceived disability. This essay is a discussion on the essential issues in an employee alcohol and drug testing program.

There are a number of essential issues in an employee alcohol and drug testing program. This is mainly due to the legalities involved in the implementation of the program. The first issue is to address the bona fide occupational requirement (Ward, 1991). This requirement dictates that employee alcohol and drug testing program should only affect employees working in safety-sensitive positions in the organization.

However, as a measure for mitigating the possibility of discriminative practices by employees, the employer must confirm that the testing is conducted in an honest and with high levels of good faith (Ward, 1991). Such have the implication that the aim of the testing is solely to ensure that employees are not impaired at the workplace.

Another essential issue in an employee alcohol and drug testing program is consideration on the possible negative effects of the performance of the employee due to either alcohol or drug use (West & Coombs, 1991). The effects of drug abuse vary from person to person.

This is why drug testing programs in an organization have received many critics. Indeed, some individuals particularly drug addicts are quite productive when on drugs. Therefore, the question of impairment resulting from alcohol or drug use by employees must be given ultimate consideration while imposing mandatory testing for employees.

Alcohol and drug testing programs are commonly imposed with a probable reason (West, & Coombs, 1991). This practice is mainly valid when an employee is involved in an injury or a risky activity, thus creating suspicion of impairment. Such are acceptable due to the legality cost that can be imposed on the organization for compensating the victim of the injury. Random alcohol and drug testing in organizations is a cause for contention.

It has been logically argued that such a practice, though important for the organization, can be a source of unfair practice against the employees. This is because such can result into unnecessary distress among employees, a factor that can greatly compromise their productivity in the organization (Ward, 1991).

Most organizations have in place an alcohol and drug free workplace policy. However, such have received critics for discriminative practices against employees.

According to human rights activists, employee with disability should be given fair treatment by their employers. Just to be appreciated here is the fact that employees with problems of alcohol or drug abuse are legally categorized as victims of disability (Ward, 1991). Based on this, alcohol and drug testing programs should provide for treatment and/or rehabilitation of such victims, rather than dismissing them from job.

In conclusion, an effective alcohol and drug testing program should put into consideration the legal provisions of the labor laws. It should be best applied on safety-sensitive position employees. Still, such should be aimed at helping the victim employees to recover from the problem rather than punishing them for their disability.


Ward, E. (1991). Employee Drug Testing: Aalberts and Walker Revisited. Journal of Small Business Management 29 (1991): 12-32.

West, L., & Coombs, R. (1991). Drug Testing: Issues and Options. New York: Oxford University Press.


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