Instructions: Discuss your views, opinions, and supporting arguments
on the issue of mandatory corporate drug testing. Support your comments with your experiences,
values and supporting arguments from readings and research. Post at least
three messages to your group discussion each week (from Tuesday to following Tuesday), and try to reply to other's
comments and questions. After you've discussed a range of viewpoints, compare,
contrast & evaluate views and arguments to establish a
common ground & understanding.
here to read about the different ways you can contribute to a group discussion.
For other help, email Allan Jeong.
Drugs and Workplace - A Real Life "Case" by Jeff Hodgdon
Here's an example for you to wrestle with, I don't know why I didn't think to bring this up earlier - it is an absolutely true story.
My father is a production manager and part owner of a small manufacturing company. There are about 30 employees total, including office staff of 5 or 6. One of his workers was recently arrested at work by federal drug authorities for his part in a drug-trafficking ring a year or so before he was hired. This employee was an excellent, upstanding worker who passed a drug test when he applied at the company, and had reportedly been completely clean and sober for almost a year (they found out after the arrest) prior to the start of his employment there.
After his arrest, the employee was released on bail pending court date. (His wife was also arrested and immediately fired from her secretarial job.)
As his employer and a production manager, WHAT WOULD YOU DO NOW?
Well, for some this migh seam as a naive answer. But let me see. This employee has been working of me for some time with perfection. So he as a not so positive background however, he did seam to get beyond that and is now clean right?
I would offer him help to solve the pending accusations. Fire him, when his wife is already with out job would probably mean that they would both get back into trouble. Since he had worked for me without problems I do not see why I should not help him the best I can. If he then ends up having to go to jain, well that is not really anything I can do about that. But do we not all deserve a second change? If we only believe in the bad things in people nothing is never going to get better. Since I do not in the first place know why my employee have got him self into this drug thing - then I should not judge before I know the whole story.
Since, I can only answer from what I think I would do. Then a whole other story is how the general polocy is in the company I work. However, I think it is important that we do not judge before we know the whole story and then we should still try to understand and show some compassion for the people that has not been as fortunate as our self.
I believe you give a him the benefit of doubt in this case scenerio.
Since he has been accused but not convicted, I would put him on leave w/o pay, since he would not be able to deal with the day to day problems of work and a pending jail sentence. His job would the depend upon whether he was convicted or acquitted. If he broke the law and was convicted, he would have to be let go(can't work while in jail). If he was acquitted, I wouldn't have any grounds to fire him.
He had made a mistake. However he was doing his work efficiently and he seems to have learnt from his mistakes. Whats the point in punishing him for a mistake he did in the past and which he is not doing any more. If he does that again, then fire him..but he deserves a second chance in this situation
I believe that if the employee made some mistakes in the past and is now not doing anthing like that..I would just ignore his mistake. However I would give him the opportunity to address my employees about his mistake and how he has learnt from that. I would not try and hide this because I don't want others to seek hidden meanings to my actions. Will this change my hiring policies....I don't think so. Like I have said earlier I am not in favor of people using drugs. If I find that they are using drugs I will fire them...however if they learnt from their mistakes I will pardon them. If I suspect an employee of using drugs I will keep a close watch on that employee.
That is a tough question. It would depend on the type of worker he was. I would probably let him go but with special provision. He could reapply for his job after the trial ( and possibly doing time). He would have to go through a probationary period of maybe six months. No need to deny him a job if
a) he didn't commit the crime while working for me
b) and he was a good worker
Once someone has a record, it is very difficult to find a job. I would him a second chance to get his life in order.
What if! we where the pro and the con's agree and therby we might get some issues singlet out that we then can agree on or for that matter disagree on.
Issues that we so far have touch upon
- Privacy of the individual
- division between work and privat life
- what will it lead to in terms of constrains from the corporation on your private life
- how will the rights of the individual be protected?
- mistrust? in relationship
- interst of the corporation
- productivity and liability
- trust? in relationship
Maybe some of you have something to add to the list.
Another posibility is that we all meet - maybe if the discusssion was more freely and at the same time - it would be easier to negociate something.
Maybe each side could come up with a priotization of the issues in order to find out if we could work out a solution with consessions on both sides. Not that we need to agree or come up with a masterplan for all corporation to follow
I appreciate your summation of the issues we've been discussing and your wish to reach a compromise. However, the object was to do this all on this message board so we won't be able to get together to talk this out. In fact, I think both sides have in effect prioritized the issues in thier discussions. From most of the people in favor of drug testing I get the sense that they are most concerned with the interests of the corporation as it pertains to productivity and safety. On the other side, we tend to have put forth a position based on the importance of individual rights, which you have continued.
Now, can we agree on a middle ground?? I'm not sure... what do you think of the compromises given so far?
(anyone can answer this question...)
I also agree with James points, let see who else agrees so we can reach a compromise...Also, because we only have less than two weeks, I suggest we all follow the same message(message #7)without posting a new idea so we can reach an agreement.
I think that there are two important issues that we have discussed:
1)Does it matter if somebody consumes drugs?
I personally think that it does. Iím not saying that if somebody consumes drugs is a bad person, Iím just saying that itís not a person that I wanted to have working in my company. The reasons are similar to those mentioned before.
2)Do a company has the right to test its employees?
Legally I think that companies have the right, at least in Chile. In terms of ethics I think that the main issue with drug tests is people's privacy. Here Iím not absolutely convinced about one position or the other. When this discussion started I didnít see privacy as an issue. Not because I didnít think that privacy was important, just because in Chile itís not a principle that is as valued as here (in the States). After some exchange of opinions with James I thought about it, and I agree with the idea of giving employees more trust. But, Iím still thinking that when hiring someone we could use drug tests. After we hire someone (and they are actually employees), Iím not sure. I guess that it sounds incongruent, butÖ
i don't think that we will ever reach a compromise on this issue, as there will probably never be agreements or voluntary compromises on any debatable issue. i think we can just display our comments and allow each other to see different points of view.
We live in a free country and a free global economy, companies have the right to take any action to support their policies and the structure they use to run their companies. After all, these policies are the base for the companyīs success. Now at days, some companies do test people and others not, so I guess if someone doesnīt like to be tested then go an apply to another company.
In fact Alfredo, I want to agree with you. We do live in a free society and companies should feel they have the right to run their companies the way they believe is right and will best guarantee their success. But when that "right" becomes a right to infrine on others rights it bothers me. It's like your parents or spouse secretly going through your things when your not around to make sure your not up to something. It just conveys a lack of trust.
However, since we are looking for a compromise I will concede this:
1.) If companies decide to drug screen during interviews they must be consistent by making sure the applicant knows it will happen beforehand, doing it for everyone as it will be standard procedure, and ensuring accuracy by spending an appropriate ammount on testing (if it's as important as all those in favor contend that shouldn't be an issue).
2.) No random drug testing.
3.) Any drug testing of an individual on the job must be after there is sufficient cause to believe he may be using illeal substances. (remember, I am NOT in favor of using drugs, I simply do not believe in the arbitrary and insensitive way testing is generally carried out).
In addition, if it is found that an employee is using drugs the situation should be handled in a sensitive manner with concerns for his/her family, reputation, future etc. Addiction is a disease and should be treated like one. (One potential problem I see is what constitutes "sufficient cause", but I don't think we have to worry about that now as long as we can agree on a basic starting point).
Great points and a good position to compromise from. I might argue with point 2 - I feel high security / public safety professions ought to be able to be tested. However, I could probably be negotiated away from that.
Points 1 and 3 are excellent. The latter part of Point 1 is especially important - accuracy (and privacy) must be maintained. I am in favor of more regulations to control and standardize drug testing, such as implementing standard protocol, accuracy checks, lab certification, and mandating that drug tests are done independent of companies (i.e. at a certified medical site.)
If companies chose to test applicants for drugs, this should be made known prior to the first interview. Under this scenerio, people can decide if it is worth their time continuing the application process.
The choice will be the applicant and not the company's and the applicant can bow out the process gracefully.
Since I believe in our fifth admendment right-the right not to testify against ourselves-any random drug testing will violate that right.
I agree that points 2 and 3 are a compromise and appear fair. However with respect to point 1, most companies do require you to take a drug test before employment(at least thats been my experience so far..I may be wrong). So the question of informing everyone of the requirements is in place. Just because they let us know in advance does not make it agreeable. Why should corporations start of by assuming that everyone is guilty till proven innocent by negative drug tests instead of starting of by saying everyone is innocent till proven guilty by positive drug tests(which is what your point 3 addresses). So drug testing should only be done if there is sufficient reason for doubt
What is most important to you! Your self or the corporation. Who' right is most important to you? Your own or the Corporation? Try to be your self in this discussion and not a corporation. Try and feel what it would be like to have somebody distrust you and your capabilities! Try not to be the boss all the time - I mean you do not live all your life in the company or do you?
Do your soul belong to the corporation just because you work for it? all you guys that think that this drug testing is ok. Consider this! I mean I do not hope that all your life is about is work and the interst of the corporation!
Would you like to be testet? or is your opinion just an expression of your believe that this will never be an issue for managers? = you!
Yes! you have the right to work in a drug-free environment, but how do your define as a drug? Because from all your pro drug testing I get the impression that there is them and us, maybe I am wrong, but then please tell me how far your think the corporation can look into your private life. I mean what if your wife was taking some kind of drug does that mean that it affect you and your performance on the job?
I have been tested several times. Fortunately, there were no false positives!
I agree that the line needs to be drawn somewhere, which is why I think there ought to be more regulations controlling the use and application of drug testing, especially the anonymity (test away from worksite) and accuracy of the test results.
Based on must of the comments made so far, including my own, I would be ready to say that corporate drugtesting should only be legal and mandatory when: 1) workplace is in certain high-risk industry - this means that if you are flipping burger at McDonalds then you wouldn't be faced with this issue 2) When there is clear, independent, evidence that your job performance is being negatively effected by substance abuse => "pot smoking" during your private time should not become an issue.
Would this be something that we could agree on?
Personally I don't agree with the idea of drug use. But when it comes to using drug testing for hiring purposes, I see it as an intrusion of privacy and something that gives companies extra leverage. I agree that we need to solve the problem but again how do we decide that a particular industry can do with drug addicts or that a particular one should not have any?
Up to this point I have based most of my opposition on the idea that it violates basic human dignity, is a violation of privacy and an abuse of power that could lead to greater abuses.
I would like to add some more issues.
1) Much of the drug testing that occurs is done in house and is not regulated causing there to be a significant amount of innacuracy. This could be a serious problem. Lets say you work for a company, they test you and get a positive result. You don't do drugs... How could this happen? It was a mistake. OK, if your lucky they will run the test again. This time it's negative. Great. Your name is cleared and no damage done right?? Probably not. From then on people may wonder if you somehow covered it up the second time and your reputation may be hurt.
2) Some of us have touched on this already, but I want to know if any of you have any stories about this... what should happen or what has happened when someone tests positive?
Most of the people that have argued for drug testing have based their arguements on the fear that if someone is on drugs they may be violent or at the least, unproductive. However, if you look at statistics (I don't have them onhand but I'll try to find some) you will find that most substance orientated work related accidents are related to alcohol. As was stated earlier, this seems almost hypocritical. The managers call for drug testing on their employees and then go out for lunch and have a cocktail. That may be extreme but I know of many that do drink at lunch. How can this be justified??
I completly agree with James about privacy and the issues about the drinking. I believe that a lot of these issues will be hard to bring in as a part of the job. What I mean is you job should not be you identity and you boss should not be giving the roll of Big Brother. Therefore this thing about getting tested for drugs or other diseases or alcohol - your personal state of mind should not be part of the job interview to the extend that it includes issues that has nothing to do with your job description. ( I hope you understand, despite my bad spelling)
Besides how will you run a business when you have so little faith in humans that you think you have to make a drug test before you hire them?
I think that you have a rather pessimistic view on people - when you more or less accuse them of using drugs before you hire them. Besides who are you going to build up a trust full relationship with them?
Consuming drugs is illegal in almost all countries, as a manager I donīt want to hire a person who is involved in illegal activities. This would tell me that they have no respect for the law system and as a consequence their behavior could be the same inside the company. I would have not trust on this person for two reasons: how do I know this person will not impact the company performance by being irresponsible and not doing their work correctly on an important project. Second, how do I know this person will not be involve in illegal activities inside the company.
How do you decide whats illegal? by Dinesh Chandran
I agree that one should not do anything illegal and so companies should try to take precautions. But it is not right to give this discretion to the companies. What if a company decides that people who drink too much tend to be less productive and so it wants to hire only people who are non-drinkers. Where would you draw the line then? This might be an extreme scenario but not impossible.
Companies have the right to follow their own guidelines (as long as they respect the law, if they decide they don't want people who drink because they are less productive then they have the right to stop hiring people who drink. After all, its their business and they will do everything they think will help them succeed.
Here we are talking about drug testing and for society and companies consuming drugs is illegal.
Agreed that drug use is illegal. But lets take the case of a person who is abusive towards his pets. That is illegal too. It suggests that the person's attitude is questionable. But do you find companies trying to find out about such behavior of a person. If a person will do his job competently, and is not likely to create trouble at work, then the company has no reason for discriminating against him.
What problem are corporations really trying to solve? by
I am not sure that random drug testing solves the problem of incompetent workers. And I am not sure that there is a direct (nor single) correlation between drug use and corporate theft.
And what drugs are we talking about anyway? Is the argument that corporations will only test for illegal drugs and if it is found in a perspective employee's system the corporation will act as some citizen police ensuring the good of the public? Or is the argument broader? Are corporations seeking to pinpoint individuals who are consuming drugs known to hurt other people directly or indirectly? And if the latter is true, then these corporations should not only test for illegal drugs but legal ones as well and on a daily basis and of every employee from board members to janitors-otherwise it is hypocritical. Or better yet, lets hand over the responsibility to the governement and have it mandate drug testing for everyone from zero to death.
For me drug testing is too evasive and it tends to be discriminating and the results are only as good as the data.
Randomly testing a pilot for drugs does not stop the pilot from using them. In fact my pilot could have tested negative and still have some unknown harmful drug in his system.
i agree with everything that james said. good points, especially the one about alcohol as i brought up in a different thread. seems very hypocritical to denounce drug use and then go out for a cocktail lunch and return to work for an unproductive afternoon in the office.
2 Threads / test prior to Hire vs. aftrer hire by Jeff Hodgdon
I think there are two distinct issues with drug testing that have been touched upon in these discussions, but not explicitly separated.
1) Drug testing as a condition of pre-hire. I am definitely in favor of this one. HOWEVER, there must be a second test for failures to mitigate the possibility of false positives
2) Random (or for cause) drug testing after hire. This one I am a little fuzzy on, as I have not experienced it. I am in favor of drug testing for documented performance issues with reasonable suspicion of drug use. I am not particularly in favor of random testing, except perhaps in some of the high safety jobs we've mentioned (pilots, etc.)
So you would accept to be drugt tested in order to get a job? Do you not se a danger in this - before you know it will also have to take an HIV test before you can get a job. I see the importance of the latter for some jobs - but consider how many that would not get a job or atleast your job will know that you are take prozac or something else? Would you like that? And who will decide anyway what drugs to test for!
i disagree, jeff. i don't think that one's hiring should be contingent on a pre-employment drug test. if a company is impressed enough to hire a person, i don't feel a drug test should be a possible employment disqualifier. i do agree with kitt's response, where does the testing and suspicion stop? drug tests, then hiv tests, then pregnancy tests for women, then ...?
and as far as after hire is concerned, i already expressed that i don't think random drug tests are reasonable. anyways, if someone wants enough to do drugs, there are ways around testing positive for them, as evidenced by one of our readings for this course.
as an aside, i was a mathematician for four years after undergrad and i personally know people that perform their jobs much better when under the influence of drugs (marijuana). seems crazy, but i know people who couldn't get 4 out of adding 2 and 2 without using drugs but seriously are math geniuses while under the influence. seems crazy, i know, but truth is stranger than fiction.
I have experienced manditory drug testing at my last job and I not only found it humiliating, I also found it to be degrading. It communicated to me a lack of trust from my managers.
I believe manditory drug testing to be against personal rights. Even though I do not do drugs and will never do them I believe it is not the corporation's business to know what I choose to do outside of work. If they test for that what rights will they feel inclined to infringe upon next? I do not need 'big brother' accusingly looking over my shoulder. We are all grown adults and are be able to make rational decisions without having to rely on the corporation to tell us what we can and cannot do outside of work.
I think every employer has the right to perform mandatory drug testing since our performance might be affected if we are on drugs. After all, the reason we get hired and paid is to get results and definitely being on drugs can affect your performance at work.
I can agree that what you do during your spare time is not the business of your employer, however, anything that affects your work negatively does matter. And as it happens drugs are usually not a one time thing but they will rather have serious long-term adverse effects on everything you do. Thus it is something that your employer should be aware of!! Especially with regards to jobs where you have a responsibility of other people.
For instance would you like to work on a construction site where the guy in charge of the explosives is doing cocain?
I do agree that if performance is being affected that something should be done. However, this is the case for anything that may be affecting performance. If someone is having family problems which are affecting performance perhaps he or she should have counseling. If someone is an alcoholic he or she should recieve help for that too. If someone has a performance problem it is the manager's job to get to the root of it and help that person out. This is my point: This takes place AFTER you learn that the person has a problem, NOT before as in the case of drug testing. Let's take the case of having family problems... say a manager for some unlucky reason has the misfortune of having had several employees with family problems that affected performance. Then with your line of reasoning shouldn't he be able to do a background check on you and your relationships?? Performance may be affected! He has the right! No he doesn't. Drug testing is not a manager's right. Rather, it infringes upon our own rights.
I understand your point, but let's say you start your own business after graduation: a restaurant.
You hire a cashier who will work for you full time, you are going to pay him x dollars. You know that x is not enough money for a person to live AND consume drugs. Wouldn't you be concerned about the posibbility that your cashier could be cocaine adict? If he is but you don't know, how long will you wait before you do something? What would you do if you find he's an adict? Fire him or help him? Don't you think that it would be better to help him before you loose money?
Why should I worry that someone I'm hiring is a cocaine addict? If he showed signs of that during an interview I would not hire him. I should also not like to have someone working for me that beat his wife or cheated on his taxes but I cant exactly do an FBI check on him. I believe that you should give your employees a certain ammount of dignity and respect and if they show signs of problems to find some way to help them if they want it. If they dont, let them go.
But what would you do? If you tested someone and found out they were on drugs what would you do? I'll tell you what most companies do. FIRE THEM. Even if they are not on drugs but for whatever reason decide not to take the test they are fired.
Are you telling me that this test is out of the goodness of your own heart? You would "help him before you loose money"? I'm not so sure...
I tried to make you think about a real situation because I feel that for many Americans being politically correct is very important, and it seems that many people say things that they donít feel. I donít even know you, but it seems that you really believe in what you say. Good for you.
In my case I had to take a drug test the last time I accepted a job. It wasnít a problem for me, and when I asked my boss about the test I understood his reason: ďThe bank canít take the risk of hiring people that will manage our customerís money and that consume drugsĒ. Now, answering your question I wouldnít hire a drug addict, but if I found that one of my employees consumes drugs and he/she wanted to stop I would give him all the help that I could. If he doesnít change after a reasonable time I would fire him/her.
I would completely worry about someone I hired who had a cocaine addiction or an addiction to some other uncontrolled substance because of personal safety issues, especially in manufacturing work. Not only do people on some drugs act violent occasionally when they are high (or when they CAN'T get their stuff), but strong stimulants or depressants also affect physical response and judgment, which could affect safety of the user, those around him, and with certain products, the end user.
Furthermore,I believe that American companies CANNOT fire someone on the spot for failing one drug test - I may need to be corrected on this one. I know for alcohol problems, the employer has to offer counseling, etc, and cannot do anything specifically unless there are performance issues.
Companies CAN refuse to hire someone based on a negative drug test prior to hire.
i agree with james in that if drug testing is a corporation's right, where does it stop? is not alcohol a drug? alcohol certainly affects work productivity, but because it is legal, many choose to ignore it as a problem in the workplace. i have gone out with coworkers and bosses after work many times and gone to work the following morning with a hangover and was not productive, but because my coworkers and bosses were out the night before, it was implied that those actions were tolerable, even encouraged to a certain extent.
however, i also agree with others in this discussion that certain professions, professions in which an employee is responsible for another's life and/or well-being, should require drug testing.
Doug, you have some good points. The issue of abusing the drug testing system (there's irony) is very possible.
While I feel drug testing is a company's right, there ought to be more explicit controls on it's use in the workplace. Along with those controls, certain companies such as those mentioned should be required to test.
Side point: I believe companies can also test somehow for "active" alcoholics". At least I was told that at a drug test I took - something about residual levels of alcohol and some funky protein...
I agree that alcohol should perhaps be treated as a drug. The big difference is though that it is much easier to spot prolonged alcohol mis-use than perhaps mis-use of drugs. And at least most studies that I have seen(no personal experience) say that you get hooked on drugs much more easily than you get hooked on alcohol. One of the reasons is probably the hangover that you feel and do not want to experience too often.
In favor of corporate drug testing by Alexander Ehrnrooth
I believe that drug testing should be mandatory especially in certain professions. This is especially crucial in professions where your actions have implications on other peoples safety etc. for instance truck drivers and airline pilots.
I also believe that it should be mandatory for public servants like teachers.
I agree with Alexander's comments. In these jobs, I feel it is especially important to drug test. I also feel that it is within the right of any employer to require employees pass drug test as a condition of hire.
Random testing after hire is a little more difficult...
I also agree. Anyway, it would be interesting to know why people doesn't... Maybe you think that it's obvious, but remember that not all of us have the same cultural backrounds. For example, privacy here in the States seems to be more important than in South America.