why employers test for drugs

5 Reasons why Employers Test for Drugs and Alcohol

Have you ever wondered just why some companies make you take drug tests and others do not? Well, there are several different reasons as to why this occurs.
Ranging from things like laws and insurance package costs, to community relations and safety, employers have varied reasons for performing drug tests.  Drug tests can be performed at any time, but are often commonly done pre-employment, randomly or periodically during employment, or after accidents or court-related issuances.
Keep reading below to find out five common reasons employers perform drug testing, as well as another reason that sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to the need and desire for employers testing for drugs.  

Common drug testing reasons

  • Ensuring proper compliance with all state and federal drug testing laws.

While federal regulations are put into place to work across the board, states can choose their own legislation in various areas. Because of this, some companies are required to test for drug usage in order to be compliant with their state’s regulations. Failing to comply with such regulations can lead to costly issues, including ramifications from both the federal and state government.  

  • They are sometimes offered discounts from insurance companies and Workers Compensation plans.

Companies are known to receive discounts or bundled payment package options if they choose to adhere to the federal and state’s drug testing regulations. In some states, there are drug testing requirements that, when employers follow these guidelines appropriately, employees can become disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if they violate their employer’s drug policies.

  • To provide and promote a safe workplace.

By using drug testing practices, employer’s run the chance of helping to lower the accident potential and accident rate, while aiding in increasing work quality. Many employers put employee safety at the forefront and use drug testing both pre-employment and randomly/periodically to help ensure their employees are safe and performing their job duties adequately.

  • Promote positive community and employer relations.

Having and practicing a drug testing policy can help increase consumer buy-in from the community for employers because it can work to help them promote their employees’ quality performance and safe working conditions. These kinds of policies sometimes serve as peace of mind for employers and consumers/the community, as it can be seen as evidence that the employer offers quality products and/or services and can be seen as a trustworthy business.

  • Prevention to deter drug users from being employed there and to discourage drug use during current employment.

Some companies do not want to hire people who are drug users altogether because of liability risks, potential perceived damage to their reputation from the community, and potential higher costs for insurance rates.
Substance use is seen as a hassle to many employers, thus they may use pre-employment drug testing as a way to deter substance users and to help the business prevent drug-related accidents and other liabilities. Random and periodic drug testing is a method often used by employers for this same reason when it comes to wanting to discourage drug use during active employment.
Employers are able to be held liable for employee accidents and injuries when it is deemed that the employer has been negligent in certain areas. This is known as employer negligence and negligent supervision, in which both involve employers not adequately ensuring the safety and requirements of employees prior to hiring and during their employment. For example, in the case of Allgeier v. MV Transportation, an employee had a history of alcohol use and caused an accident while under the influence.
However, the employer was found to be negligent because they were unaware of the employee’s alcohol use history and they did not test her for any substances until a significant time after the accident. Along with the employee testing negative for substances well after the accident, it was found that the employer did not verify the information on the employee’s job application pre-employment (which proved to be false)
Companies don’t want to deal with the hassle and cost of liability claims, thus they rely on drug testing as a way to pre-emptively work to avoid such cases.

What you may not realize about drug testing

Drug testing is often performed as a means to help employees. If you are surprised by this, you are not alone. One of the perhaps less commonly understood reasons for employers performing drug tests is that they actually want to help their employees.
While drug testing has the reputation of deterrence and creating room for employers to save face, drug testing is also performed to aid drug users in getting help. Some companies include plans of support within their structure to drug users to help them get clean, which may include rehab services and counseling.
Companies that do drug testing
Since drug testing requirements are not uniform across all types of employment and employers, some employers do not take the time to utilize these tests. However, the list below is a short look at several companies that perform drug testing at various intervals.

  • Amazon
  • Bank of America
  • Best Buy
  • Comcast
  • Family Dollar
  • Fedex
  • McDonald’s
  • Morgan Stanley
  • UPS
  • Waffle House
  • YMCA 


Drug testing can be a help and a hindrance for both employers and employees.  Based on things like the employers’ policies and procedures, federal and state laws, and the other factors mentioned above, the employer can choose to participate in drug testing in any combination of pre-hiring, randomly, periodically, or after an incident, etc.

Be sure that you are aware of your perspective or current employers’ policies on drug testing so that you can be prepared. If you are a drug user and you are facing an upcoming drug test on your hair, there are ways you can help ensure you will pass.

also read: Common Types of Drug Tests Used by Employers


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