Company Drug Testing and Background Checks: What to Expect When Hired for a New Job

company-drug-testingYou've been screened, selected and interviewed, and now you've landed the job. Congratulations. But before you can start, your new employer wants you to undergo a drug test and background check.

What should you expect when you take a drug test and get background-checked for a new job?


Know Your Rights About Drug Testing and the Law

The last thing you want to do when starting a new job is to seem difficult and refuse to take a drug test. But the fact is, federal and state laws are a bit wobbly about the procedure, and these tests are not always legal.

For example, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that both blood and urine collection are minimally intrusive procedures that are not harmful to job applicants when they are conducted in a private environment such as a doctor's office without direct observation by the tester. That means it's usually an invasion of your privacy if your employer requires you to provide a urine sample while other people are in the room watching.

In some cases, such as when the employer is concerned that a job applicant might tamper with a sample, it's legal for an employer to allow one other person of the same sex in the room when the sample is given.

While state laws vary on drug testing by employers, there is a federal law that governs the use of drugs and alcohol in the workplace. The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 says that any employer that receives federal grants or contracts must be drug-free, or it risks losing its federal funding. But the act doesn't contain any provisions that specifically allow for workplace drug testing.

Where does that leave you? The realistic approach is to accept that during the job-hunting process you should live a healthy lifestyle and be prepared for your new employer to ask you to be tested. And remember, it's not personal. Over 60% of U.S. employers had some sort of drug testing program in place in 2004, according to the American Management Association.

A great place to learn the full story is this drug testing fact sheet published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Brace Yourself for a Background Check

OK, so the drug test is completed and you're squeaky clean. That's great! Now are you ready for a background check?

Yes, many companies now screen job candidates' backgrounds, and in some cases screening is required by federal or state law. Security jobs, for example, require background checks--and fingerprinting.

Again, it's best to take a realistic approach and think about what employers will find out about you if they go digging. Keep in mind that more and more companies now hire private companies specializing in background checks to do the screening work for them.

Expect the search to be thorough. How's your credit report? Ever been arrested? Did you earn all the degrees you've claimed to earn on your resume? What comes up on the first page when you Google yourself?

And do you have a right to know when an employer requests a background check on you?

"Yes," says the nonprofit consumer organization Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. "Amendments to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 USC §1681 et seq.), in effect September 30, 1997, increase the disclosure and consent requirements of employers who use consumer reports."

And now finally, the last step: Relax. Breathe deeply, close your eyes, and think about anything your new employer might find and practice the well-crafted, thoughtful and diplomatic response you might give if any questions come up. Politicians with national public profiles do it all the time, and so can you.

Next: Employment Reference Checks: What You Need to Know >>



Filed under: Employment Law
Joyce Hanson

Joyce Hanson

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Joyce Hanson is a Brooklyn, New York-based writer, editor and long-time blogger who has written about small business and careers for Crain's New York Business.

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zongo1

Drug testing is a violation of your right to privacy. Cheat on all drug tests. Look at Clear Test products, masking agents, clean urine, etc... Don't be a victim of drug testing, it's nobodies business what you do on your free time or what you put into your body.

July 02 2013 at 3:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Drug Free Workplace Program from Working Partners

Did you know that in the manufacturing industry it is estimated that one employee in five is a substance abuser? Having a drug-free workplace policy cuts down on workplace accidents, workers compensation claims, and increases productivity.

June 24 2010 at 4:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Drug Free Workplace Program from Working Partners's comment
saku77777777777

but the governemt says that cannabis is a drug and a harder drug alcohol you can buy just about any were. so its ok to do hard drugs but not ok to us cannabis even though the human body was made to use cannabis. Smoking a cannabis joint is healthier for you then drinking a glass of orange juice. I think we should hair sample every employ and fire every person who has used alcohol.

July 03 2013 at 6:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Caligirl

JT are you for real, you need to get a life, it was an exaggerating on the fact that the article wasnt helpful, and was more or less a waste of my time, as well as a waste of a few others time as well if you bothored to read the majority of the comments posted, not about how long it took me to read it. Wow you really need to get yourself a life..

And your correct I didnt have to read the whole thing, but I did because I thought it might be useful information, but it wasnt, it was a waste of my time..

So you go get a life so you wont feel the need to worry about how long it takes someone else to read an article.

Good luck with that!!

June 21 2010 at 11:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brenda

First we NEED to quit giving welfare to those who are poor AND ONLY give it to those who ARE destitute. Destitute MEANS lacking something NEEDED. Poor means lacking MATERIAL possessions or inferior in QUALITY. So WHAT if the house isnt the best or even nice...make it a home. Same with everything else. Clothes, food, cars..everything.
Having a 40 hr a week job SOMEWHERE would also be a requirement IF you are not disabled or a senior citizen. Every fast food joint you pass has a help wanted sign in the window AND on the sign. If your not to good to receive welfare your not to good to work for Burger King either. Doesnt matter the amount you MAKE..just as long as you have a 40 hr a week LEGITIMATE job that holds out taxes. The amount of help you will receive will all equal out to you having the SAME AMOUNT every month anyway. Not OVER 2100.00 (for this example)
Each state should have a cost of living standard that consideres housing, utility and food costs. The BASICS for survival. If the state averages 1000.00 for rent, 500.00 for electricity, water and gas and 600.00 a month for food for a family of 4...thats 2100.00 a month for basic survival. (examples only) If they are making 10.00 an hour for 40 hrs thats 400.00 times 4 weeks in most months..thats 1600.00. SO that leaves a 500.00 a month shortage for BASIC needs. So 500.00 would be total the amount in food stamps AND rent allownace.
And then you would ONLY GET 500.00 worth of food stamps and a rent allowance. Nothing else. Your paycheck could go towards THE REST OF THE rent and utilities. Maybe even include a VERY SMALL allowance for things KIDS NEED at school for things like a field trip or something. Only like 100.00 a month for misc.
The "way of life" the welfare dept allows recepients to have to QUALIFY for service is WAY TO HIGH. If you can AFFORD a NEW car you do NOT need to be on welfare. If you shop in ANY clothing store OTHER THAN second hand stores...you DO NOT need welfare. If your not already buying off brand EVERYTHING you DO NOT need welfare. If you have a cell phone you DO NOT need welfare. If you smoke, drink or have ANY unhealthy habit that is bad for your body you DO NOT need welfare.
This is just for starters........
It's not the tax payers responsibility to provide a HIGHER standard of living. Humanity requires that the BASICS be met. But it does NOT require equality concerning POSSESSIONS. Some responsibility must be left to the individual if they want a better life than this.

June 21 2010 at 12:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brenda's comment
saku77777777777

hey Brenda. My god daughter's parents are on welfare. her Dad injured his back in a car accident and her mom has mental problems. they have 3 kids and get 400 a month for food. they don't get money, they get 400 on a card to use at the store for food and there rent paid. I hope you get put in a situation were your not able to support your self so you can realize how dumb you sound. you lump every one in the same boat. people like you make me sad

July 03 2013 at 7:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony West

Just say no to drug testing. This is the most disgusting practice ever approved by our government. Not only is it intrusive but results stick folks and it's been shown over and over that many things can cause a false result. I will (and have) walked off of a job before taking a drug test. Won't do it. It's also time for people who feel like I do to stop supporting businesses that use testing.

June 20 2010 at 10:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
angelita

guys relax, some employers only want to know if you have been arrested or convicted within the last 8 to 10 years prior to your job seeking application request. So if you have a compromising record, and it was about 20 to 30 years you may be a good candidate.

June 20 2010 at 10:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Penni Martin

As a former Management Employee, I was required to have all
Appplicants for employment drug screened, however I think all persons in the work place should be drug screened, since many Management and CEOS are known to have additions to prescription drugs,and alcohol. Why are we not testing these high level people for all substance abuse????? I once came upon my superior sniffing cocaine in the Ladies Room!!!!!It happens every day, especially on Wall Street, etc.

June 20 2010 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Penni Martin's comment
saku77777777777

its the world we live in. the bosses who give us drug tests( drugs others then cannabis stay in your system for only 2-3 days. cannabis is in your system for over a month) are on drugs. Look are our b.s. drug war. our government sells cocaine and herion in large amounts and then busts Mexicans for doing the same thing. if people aren't allowed to use drugs they sure as hell shouldn't be allowed to use alcohol. alcohol can be found at just about any store so all the drug tests should focus on that instead of cannabis. I have chronic nerve damage from a car accident , I tried using every medication my dr gave me. all of the drugs she gave me didn't help my condition one bit. the drugs made it worse. They even gave me side affects like getting me high as all heck, made me bleed out of my butt, gave me gut pains and made me want to kill myself. I went and saw the top neuroligest in my area and he told me about using medical cannabis. Before I used cannabis I would get muscle spasms in my neck and back, I get nerve damage in my neck, back, arms and hands. I would loose the feeling in my hands or feel and numb tingling feeling in them( kind of like how the dentist numbs your mouth up before working on you) extreme depression, extreme anxiety, extreme stress , or extreme rage. Plus It caused a sleeping disorder too. By smoking cannabis it takes away all of the conditions I said . now I get soreness in my back sometimes but as long as I use cannabis that's all that's wrong with me. I am not able to work with out cannabis . its satanic that you can kill your self with booze in this so called free country but I can't take the meds that my doctor told me to take. the meds that make it so I don't have to be on welfare. the meds that let me live a normal life.

July 03 2013 at 7:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gary K

Both government and corporations get away with way too much at the expense of the individual. Think taxes and all of these meaningless and hidden fees that both impose.

Think of the "fire at will" which is putting so many people out of work.. For those of you that don't know what I mean is that "fire at will" means you can be fired if someone doesn't like the tie you are wearing. You have no rights of redress.

Think of government seizure of private property for the most trivial reasons like being a day late on paying your water bill.

And on and on and on...

June 20 2010 at 8:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marty D.

DRUG TESTS ARE NEEDED. I WOULD NOT WANT SOMEONE ON COCAINE WORKING FOR ME. AND A POTHEAD FALLS IN THE SAME CATEGORY. IF THEIR DRUG USE AFFECTS MY BUSINESS, THEY WILL NOT WORK FOR ME. I HAVE ZERO TOLERANCE TOWARDS DRUGS. THE CRIMINAL RECORD ASPECT IS A LITTLE TRICKY THOUGH. I THINK AFTER A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF TIME, A PERSON'S MISTAKE 20 YEARS AGO SHOULD NOT AFFECT WHO THEY ARE TODAY. I HAVE BEEN CLEAN AND SOBER FROM ALCOHOL AND DRUGS FOR 20 YEARS, AND STILL MY RECORD RECENTLY AFFECTED ME IN NOT GETTING 2 JOBS. WTF?

June 20 2010 at 8:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Marty D.'s comment
saku77777777777

what the heck do you mean. Your against black , latino , and Asians working ? the klu klux klan made up the term potheads, and said that white people could handle using cannabis but black latinos and Asians( they used racial slurs) had under evolved brains and couldn't handle using cannabis. hence the name pot heads. next time you want to be raciest go join one of those cross burning clubs. you will fit right in

July 03 2013 at 7:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fret

I have a felony and it is a pain in the ass to get a job. I feel that there should be a period of time after you havn't gotten in trouble that the country could let us get a job without the hassel. I know that you will think you made your bed but, I just want to work and have a quality of life for me and my family.

June 20 2010 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fret's comment
valari

fret, like I said the state paid for my ex and he had 43 counts of felonies..

June 20 2010 at 8:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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