Instructions: Discuss your views, opinions, and supporting arguments on the
issues of corporate drug testing. Support your comments with your experiences, values
and supporting arguments from readings and research. Post a minumum of
three messages each week to your discussion (from Tuesday to following Tuesday), and try to reply to other's
comments and questions. After you've discussed a range of viewpoints, compare and
contrast views and arguments to establish a common ground.
here to read about the different ways you can contribute to a group discussion.
For other help, email Allan Jeong.
new stance: everyone post their new stance here by Graham Collinge
I still believe that testing is unethical. However, I concede to the fact that it is a necessary evil in many cases. I propose that corporate drug testing be limited only to hard drugs (exclude marijuana) in all cases except where the corporation can prove that the position requires work that is life-critical.
I still don't think that the potential benefit to a few members of society is worth giving corporations the authority to invade the privacy of all of their employees. I don't believe that corporations that conduct drug testing are doing it to protect society, but are doing it for reasons of employee productivity and liability. Therefore, I think that this is a slippery slope starting with drug testing and continuing into medical testing as corporations try to further narrow their pool of employees to those with the lowest level of potential liability. Corporations might even feel that they have the right to check into the state of your personal life - for example, single mothers often have a lot of responsibilities outside of work that might or might not impact their work performance - to ensure that you will be a productive worker.
Drug testing won't guarantee a safe society, especially when one considers that drug addicts can fool the tests, but it will guarantee a restrictive one where employees have no privacy, are presumed guilty and have limited avenues of appeal.
To me a better option is to check the work history and references of a potential employee throughly. Any significant drug problem or other behaviors that might be of concern will show up in a history of job changing or lack of promotion/responsibility at other jobs.
If drug testing must be performed, then I would suggest that employees be tested prior to being hired, but the outcome not have any impact on the hiring decision. If the test comes up postive, then the employee is referred to confidential counseling and tested to more times at regular, reasonable intervals. If the employee is unable to kick the drug habit then consider terminating the employee.
I'm for drug testing. Through our web discussion, I have changed slightly, but still I'm for it.
The main reason is probably that I feel most companies should take social responsibility. That's, companies should protect customers, employees including managers... and should also contribute to society according to their situation. Companies can also protects itself to protect shraholders.
I think I understand our group member's opinions: why against. Some raised good examples of "unethical" practice about corporate drug testing. In those cases, however, I think the companies are abusing the corporate policy of drug testing. So, it is out of my scope.
I agree that corporate drug testing is an invasion of privacy. However, it can be allowed if the purpose is appropriate (to protect the company's stakeholders, etc.) and it is used in a proper way (no abuse). Except that the person feels uncomfortable by being tested, she/he isn't affected by the drug test, if she/he doesn't do drugs. Therefore, drug tesing is acceptable.
Accuracy of drug tests, effects of drug to society, and things like these are also out of my scope.
Graham - I tried to write my thoughts as clearly as possible. But, please let me know if you have any question. Again, thank you very much, Graham.
The following is a (long)quote taken from the above website (2 paragraphs):
Much more work remains to be done. As of mid 1997, only a handful of states ban testing that is not based on individual suspicion: Montana, Iowa, Vermont, and Rhode Island. Minnesota, Maine and Connecticut permit not-for-cause testing, but only of employees in safety-sensitive positions. These laws also require confirmation testing, lab certification and test result confidentiality.
Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Oregon and Utah regulate drug testing in some fashion; Florida and Kansas protect government employee rights, but not those of private sector workers. Only in California, Massachusetts and New Jersey have the highest courts ruled out some forms of drug testing on state constitutional or statutory grounds. The ACLU is now continuing our efforts to protect workplace privacy rights. You can help.
I agree with what the states in the first paragraph have done--I think that this is a reasonable compromise. Thought second paragraph was also interesting.
First off, thanks again for your lead to write the report.
My stance has not changed in principal, but after having read what other had to say I can augment my point of view a little bit.
I still maintain that while there is a merit to drug testing, it should not be applied to everyone and companies should engage in this practice only if they are given a reason to do so. Specifically, I agree with what Jill said regarding the fact that drug testing will not guarantee a safer society- if this is the type of excuse for it that some of us entertain, those who think that corporations abide or should abide by ethical norms and care about something else except for making money. Drug tests can be fooled and people who are not on drugs may in turn lose their job because of the test error.
Ultimately, there may be a list of approved professions, like I said also earlier in my post that may justify drug testing to be required of applicants. I was pleasantly surprised to read post by Neil and learn that a number of states already do so. Also I think it is important to let the employee having to get through the test choose the facility instead of imposing the facility choice on him/her.
To summarize my point of view, I do not like drug testing at all, but understand that it is necessary in certain circumstances and should be used only in these specific cases.
Please e-mail me if you still have question regarding my views on the issue.
OK, lets start wrapping this up then by Graham Collinge
It sounds like everyone is alright with me writing this up. So now we should start coming to some sort of concensus. I thought Emily had a great idea. Let's have everyone give another statement about where they stand now, after taking everyone's comments into consideration. After that, perhaps we can come to an agreement on a resolution that we all somewhat agree with. Sound good? I'll start with a posting called 'new stance'
No problem. I am glad you offered to write it. As my title suggests, good luck making sense of this mess. Do you think it might be a good idea to try to organize everyone's thoughts at the end? I am not sure if that will screw up the "stream of consciousness" we have going here, but it might be interesting to get everyone's closing comments. What do you think?
Do you think that we should make an assumption, as Sang says in her response? I think we should. I think it necessary to keep our discussion within the scope. Our discussion is about a dilemma - trade-offs between safety/harm and privacy.
At the heart of this issue, we are definitely posed with the dilemma of trading personal freedom and privacy for the benefit of society. There are areas of employment that definitely require drug testing for safety's sake. And, in order to avoid discrimination, it seems that an organization that tests one type of employee must test others. From this perspective, drug-testing appears to be a necessary evil of sorts.
I think that in order to resolve this dilemma, reasonable guidelines for the necessity of drug testing need to be standardized and implemented. If this were the case, society could ensure that drug testing is in place where it is necesary, and not in place where it is not. Anyone agree
I'd like to understand what you say correctly. So, let me ask you a question. Are you saying that we need to have a reasonable guideline for the necessity of drug testing? I guess not. I guess you are saying that drug testing can be neither standardized nor implemented. After your response on this question, I think I can respond if I agree to your last message. Anyway thanks, Graham.
I agree sure--it seems obvious. The problem is in the implementation. Have you ever taken a class on discrimination laws in the United States? You wouldn't believe the lawsuits out there. I think the real challenge is going to be how we establish a policy that is fair.
It is almost impossible to imagine where we would draw the line. Any ideas?
Before even getting to the point where we start to discriminate between the types of drugs that we think companies should be allowed to test for, it seems to me that the whole issue is as follows:
Do I as an employee consider this obvious infringement of privacy to be adequately justified ? I agree with some of the points made earlier that companies seek to protect themselves from possible litigations and just to monitor value system of employees. but while companies have their agendas, I have mine. I understand reasons for drug testing but the mere existence of the issue is disturbing to me.
Some might argue that since use of drugs is outlawed, this is a right of society to guard itself against drug addicts and companies doing drug testing are merely following the rules.
OK, I agree. What about background checks. Hiring a serial killer a better alternative than hiring a drug addict ? Some companies run and some don't run such checks.
Ultimately I believe that while there is a merit to drug testing, it should not be applied to everyone and companies should engage in this practice only if they are given a reason to do so.
in response to your post I think that it really is a sound plan for some sort of a government agency to come up with a list of occupations where it should be legally lawful to drug-test. I think commercial pilots and surgeons and others who are entrusted people's lives should be among the first ones to go through it.
I agree with your opinion. I think it represents the conflict that many of us have regarding this issue. We can see instances where it is valuable, but we can see the problems in making it universal. The main challenge is how to apply it fairly. Can we figure that out or not?
I also wanted to follow up on your comment on serial killers. I think the reason many companies to not do background checks is because they are often useless. Serial killers are pretty sneaky. If anyone was on to them, they would probably be locked up. But let me assure you--if there was a way to test for this legitimately, I think companies would be all over it. Would it be an invasion of privacy?
I think that drug testing can invade privacy. Employers should not abuse the drug test to make their decisions on employement. However, assuming employers have to protect all employees from any risk that may occur during work hours, I think that drug testing may be necessary. If it is believed that drug use can possibly cause some problems, companies probably have to require the employees to take the test.
I don't have a strong feeling, but I would say that I somewhat-agree to drug testing by companies. At the same time, however, I like to request employers to handle the test result with ultimate care, to avoid further invasion of employees's privacy.
I do agree with your point that drug testing should be required for certain job categories where safety is a concern.
It appears from an employee standpoint that ones rights do not want to be violated, but employees are willing to give up some privacy in order to ensure his or her own saftey as well as others.
I would be concerned with my own safety for instance if I was flying on a plane as well as many of the flight attendants. However, is it fair to just test the pilots? Why should just the pilots be put through this degrading incident when the flight attendants are not?
Overall issue outlined below:
Privacy vs. Saftey
Who to test if saftey is a "large" enough concern?
Thank you for your comment, Neil. I see your point. I think it is difficult to determine who should be tested in such a case. It doesn't make sense that everyone is drug-tested because of the pilot's safety.
However, an airline company, for example, wants to ensure everyone's safety. I mean there is a different kind of risk for each job. It doesn't make sense to me that the company does different kind of drug tests depending on the job.
how about differentiation between drugs? by Graham Collinge
It seems to me that there is a definite difference between the effects of certain drugs as they relate to the workforce. It is well documented that cocaine, morphine, heroin, acid, etc. are extremely detrimental to performance, not to mention addictive. However Marijuana is a completely different story. More and more, research is proving that marijuana is far less addictive than alcohol and far less detrimental to motor functions and performance. Unfortunately, most terminations of employment are a result of marijuana use. Perhaps it is ok for companies to test for hard drugs, but not marijuana.
As another point, marijuana tends to stay in the system long after the effects have worn off. It therefore is impossible to show that a person was using it on the job. On the other hand, drugs like cocaine and acid are often not traceable in the system shortly after ingesting them. It just seems to me that marijuana isn't getting a fair shake when it comes to drug testing.
If what you are saying is true, I agree that marijuana is getting a bad shake. However, I do not believe companies will exclude it from drug tests because it is still illegal. I think there are many instances when drug use does NOT affect on-the-job performance; this is true for a variety of drugs. Therefore, I do not think companies are always testing just because they want to make sure drugs will not cause problems at work. I think companies also use drug tests for many of the other reasons that have been suggested on this bulletin board--specifically, to protect themselves from liability and litigation, and as value monitor. Whether those reasons are right or wrong, I am not sure. I just think they are reasons that companies will NOT exclude marijuana from testing until it becomes legal. And that, as you know, is a different topic altogether...
I think there should be a distinction, and actually I believe I saw somewhere that the Supreme Court was to hear a case to legalize weed. I don't view marijuana as being in the same category as crack, cocaine, or any of the other hard drugs.
I thought that one of the readings "Issues in Drug Testing for the Private Sector" raised some interesting issues regarding the real danger of false positives and the economics of conducting reliable tests ($5 for test with high error rates and $90 for a more sophisticated test).
Did the article impact anyone's opinion regarding the issue of testing?
You bring up the point of looking at the validity of the results of drug testing as a reason of whether or not to impliment drug testing. If a highly accurate method is not used, should drug testing even be done in the first place?
If a compromise is found between the sides is to be determined, I think that this issue needs to be considered.
I am for drug testing. In my home country, Korea, drug is not a big problem and companies rarely do drug testing. Thus, when I first heard about drug testing, I thouht it as an invasion of privacy. But after a consideration, my opinion was changed. maybe taking drug and performance is not correlated, as mentioned by other colleagues. But, I think it would surely related to the welfare of whole society. I understand that the drug testing experience is a degrading one. Also, I still believe it can be an invasion of privacy. But, for the sake of our society, we can submit to drug testing.
I built my argument based on the assumption that drugs do harm to society. I am not sure whether every societies who legalize drugs will be improved. But that's very interesting fact. Even thoug it is not the core of our discussion, it's worth while to think.
I remember going to the little clinic they sent me to in order to take my drug test. It was not an enjoyable experience and to me it was somewhat degrading . There was random testing within the company.
I used to teach a two week training class and an older gentleman, who was one of the most intellegent students I had, was given instructions by his supervisor to go have a drug test. The gentleman did not go to the drug test, because he already had scheduled a doctors appointment for the same day. To the best of my knowledge he was fired shortly after not going to his drug test per company policy. In this case, the employer lost an outstanding employee and the employee was out of a job and may have lost some retirement benefits.
My previous employer, to the best of my knowledge, did drug testing if an employee was injured on the job.
From a safety standpoint, I could understand where drug testing could protect the individuals working in the plant as a whole (utilitarian viewpoint).
From a liability and productivity standpoint, I can also understand why a company would want to do drug testing.
Personally, I find it to be an invasion of privacy. Although, I dislike the concept more because I feel that it is somewhat of a degrading experience.
I don't know exactly whether I can completely agree with you, but I guess I'm somewhere close to your view towards drug testing. I agree that drug testing is invasion of privacy. However, I am for drug testing to some extent.
I am not sure how I feel about this issue. I was required to take a drug test for my internship last summer. It was not a pleasant experience. The prevailing mood at the drug clinic seemed to be guilty until proven innocent. I think drug tests are most definitely an invasion of privacy. Whether this invasion is warranted or not, I am not sure. I would like to see the correlation evidence someone mentioned. Do you know where that might be available?
I am not aware of any correlation evidence between work performance and drug use. There are a lot of "it depends" on the correlation issue.
As for privacy, I don't consider it a big deal on the drug issue since I'm not a user (definitely not implying that anyone else is) I don't consider this a privacy issue so much as I do an issue to protect others or limit liability in the event we're talking about judges, police officers, pilots and surgeons. Those are actually the only cases that I know of where I would approve drug testing. You must have your eyes tested to become a pilot, and you have to pass a physical to enlist in the military. I don't see why a drug test is any different other than the fact that people would naturally want to keep drug use a secret.
Have you changed your oppinion? by Graham Collinge
It seems from this e-mail that you have changed your stance on the issue. when you first stated your stance, you said that you were all for drug testing. Now, in this response (correlation/privacy) you seem to be saying that you only approve of drug testing in cases of extreme liability and life-critical acitvities, which is my point initially. You can't give up now. Your the only one who is for drug testing. If you jump ship now, we'll have nothing to talk about!
Sorry for the confusion. I was responding to someone else who said absolutely no to drug testing, and I wanted to see how she felt about critical situations.
Again, not suggesting that anyone is a user on this site, but since I am not, I don't feel so strongly about the privacy issue of drugs as it relates to work. If my employer is willing to pay you for work, I think they have the right to know if you are a drug user. I think the fact that you use drugs could be indicative of traits your employer may want protection against.
I am for privacy in cases were you are not breaking the law. DRUG USE IS ILLEGAL, I DON'T WANT TO HIRE SOMEONE WHO IS IN THE HABIT OF BREAKING THE LAW.
I am against drup testing except when it comes to working at companies that involve life-critical business activities such as building aircraft, etc. I think that drug testing is an unnecessary invasion of privacy. Besides, In most cases there will be a low correlation between performance and test results. what people do on their own time is really their own business.
I am for drug testing in the workplace. Whether it is life-critical or not, I think it is warranted in numerous situations. The medical field, law enforcement, fiduciary representation, etc. While there may not be a correlation to use and performance, I think you can be a potential liability to the company and they have a right to know. It is an invasion of privacy, but since drugs are illegal and can take over your life, I think it is relevant. Also, if you are working in a capacity where your employer can be sued for your actions, its warranted.
Now whether or not you're hired/fired, or are some drugs considered ok, or can you only be tested once prior to beginning the job is a different story.
I think I agree with you, Keisha. You say that drug testing is invation of privacy, but you are for drug testing. I think I have a same kind of feeling. How do you think about abuse of drug testing? I read Neil's message, and I though his student's case was terrible. Although I'm for drug testing, the company in his example is totally wrong.
I dont think you should test drugs at work either. Drug use should be confined to your home, major alternative rock festivals, and Amsterdam. My reasoning is out of basic respect for your company and fellow employees and also to keep you from staring for hours at your PC's screen saver.
I am against drug testing in any work situation. Any seemingly small invasion of an individual's privacy, even if it is supposedly for the greater good, has the potential of making it permissable to further reduce the rights of individuals.
Greetings Jill - and fellow group members. Jill I hear your point, and I am against invasion of privacy, but since drugs are illegal, its kinda like the have you been convicted of a felony question on your application. I'm for testing because your employer has the right to know if you make it a practice of breaking the law.
So should police officers, surgeons, and judges, be free of screening also?
To me the have you been convicted of a felony question is a different matter. In that case someone has been tried and convicted of a crime. That is public record so there is no invasion of privacy. I do still have some problems with employers asking this, but that is a whole different discussion.
I don't think that it is the right of corporations to police the personal lives of employees. If an employee is suspected of having a drug problem address it with the individual employee, offer counseling etc. Don't make a blanket assumption of guilt and force employees to prove their innocence.
I don't think that anyone, regardless of profession, should be drug tested. Where does it stop once it becomes permissible to invade the privacy of certain individuals based on certain criteria?
I am just curious--does your opinion change if the company hasn't actually hired the person yet? You mentioned using counseling, etc., which I think is a great idea. But, do you think it's OK for a company to use drug screenings BEFORE they actually hire a person? I am guessing from your writing that your answer is no and I am not even sure how I feel. I am just thinking about your use of the statement "permissible to invade privacy." I guess if you are looking for a job, you have the right (and the free-will) to bypass any companies that ask for a drug test. What do you think?
I don't think that drug tests should be used as a condition of employment or that employers should be able to use their leverage/position to force employees to choose between their privacy and a job. Depending on how many companies drug test it might be unavoidable to bypass those companies that require drug testing.
Also depending on how many companies drug test as terms of employment, what does that mean for drug users? Are they just marginalized and not given any chance for employment or rehabilitation?
And should non-drug users just surrender any expectation of privacy?
Once one level of privacy is surrendered so that the company may protect itself from liability what is next? Testing for health conditions and intelligence so companies can further restrict who is a desirable employee?
I agree with Jillian that you should not give in to testing drugs just because your company wants you to. I dont care how much they make fun of you like calling you a wimp, or baby, or tell you that all the other company's employees are doin it....Young America: its ok to JUST SAY NO!!!
Empolyers are enforcing the law and above the law? by
Having a law is one thing, but determining who and how the law is enforced is another thing. Not even the judicial system can impose drug testing without probable intent (forgive me I am not a lawyer, I think that is the correct phrase). But, we let companies play by a different set of laws? Are they above the law?
Maybe we should also allow employers to go through our wallets and purses every day to make sure that we don't have any illegal substances in our accessories. Maybe they should also search my car, since it will be parked on company property to insure that drugs are not in my car. But why stop there? Why not sign more of my rights away to the company in order to work there? Why don't we just let companies start testing women to see if they are pregnant? Maybe we could let them also test for AIDS or some other disease, because these employees could raise the insurance rates of the company. Aren't all of these concepts also in the company's best interest? Where do you draw the line?
But wait--you might also argue that employees don't have to work for these companies. They can choose to work for another company. Or can they? How many job offers have you had that did not require a drug test that you were willing to take? I have not had one yet since graduating from college. Would I put myself in a poor financial state to protect my principles regarding corporate drug testing? Probably not. Therefore, in essance corporations can get away with drug testing because the alternatives, unemployment or working in a less desirable position at a company that does not drug test, would be considered worse.
I think you make some wonderful points, and I am in total agreement with your logic. A body is a person's personal property, just like a car, and a house. therefore it only makes sense that a company should require a search warrant with just cause to search your blood, urine, hair, or whatever other dimeening (sp?) forms of testing they desire.