Over the last week or so, two stories about drugs in the workplace caught my eye. First was the NY Times article on employer efforts to respond to the increasing use of prescription drugs in the workplace. The article appropriately addressed the conflict between employer needs to ensure a safe workplace and employee rights to privacy and the protections afforded by the ADA. As a result, some employers have begun testing employees for prescription painkillers and other prescription drugs and terminating employees that test positive.
The second issue in the media this past week involved the disclosure that officials from the Houston Texans last month conducted a search of the team’s locker room for evidence of performance enhancing drugs. Earlier this season, two Houston players had been suspended under the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Surprisingly, neither the Texan players nor the NFLPA seem to have (at least publicly) complained about the search. (You can read more about this story here.)
These two stories show the lengths to which employers are going to combat drugs in their workplaces. Before taking any drastic approaches towards addressing a drug problem in their workplace, employers would be wise to consult their labor and employment counsel to ensure that their approach is lawful.