Last updated: January 18, 2021
Pennsylvania drug testing locations
- Bethel Park
- New Castle
- State College
- West Chester
- West Mifflin
- 6555 Roosevelt Blvd
- Philadelphia, PA 19149
- 526 Penn Ave
- Pittsburgh, PA 15222
- 1608 W Allen St
- Allentown, PA 18102
- 4247 Ridge Rd #102
- Erie, PA 16506
- 525 Penn St
- Reading, PA 19601
- 1612 Nay Aug Ave
- Scranton, PA 18509
Pennsylvania drug testing laws
Pennsylvania does not have a statute or regulation that generally prohibits or mandates workplace drug and alcohol testing by private employers. However, Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation law and Pennsylvania case law establish some parameters for workplace drug testing. l
In addition, transportation employees in Pennsylvania, such as drivers of commercial motor vehicles, must comply with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s Motor Carrier Transportation Regulations regarding workplace drug testing. These regulations incorporate the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) drug and alcohol testing rules.l
Pennsylvania unemployment compensation law
Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation law upholds an employer’s right to discharge an employee following a positive drug test. In Pennsylvania, an employee is ineligible for unemployment compensation if he or she was discharged or suspended because of
- failure to submit to a legitimate drug test;
- failure to pass a legitimate drug test.
For the purposes of Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation, all employer drug testing must be conducted under the employer’s established substance abuse policy.
Alcohol and drug testing rules for transportation employees
Pennsylvania’s Motor Carrier Transportation Regulations regarding workplace drug testing for transportation employees incorporates the federal FMCSA’s rules. The FMCSA’s alcohol and drug testing rules apply to all employees who operate a commercial motor vehicle in any state and their employers. These regulations require testing in certain circumstances for all of the following substances: alcohol, marijuana; cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP).
Pre-employment drug testing is required for commercial motor vehicle applicants, and negative test results must be received before an employer can allow a driver to perform such a safety-sensitive position. Pre-employment drug testing is only required for controlled substances, although alcohol testing is also permitted.
Reasonable suspicion testing
When a trained supervisor or employer has reasonable suspicion to believe that a driver has used alcohol or a controlled substance, the employer is required to perform a drug and alcohol test for that driver. In such a case, the driver must be relieved of all duties until the test results come back and they are negative. This helps ensure the roads remain safe for everyone.
Random drug and alcohol testing is unannounced testing based on a random selection of drivers. The selection must be made by a scientifically valid method, and all drivers must have an equal chance of being tested. The names of drivers who are selected for testing must be kept confidential until the time that the carrier notifies the driver to take the test. Once the driver is notified, he or she must immediately proceed to the testing facility and undergo testing. Every driver’s name that is selected for testing must be returned to the selection pool so that all drivers have an equal chance of being selected at any time.
Random drug and alcohol testing are both required, as follows:
Random alcohol tests can only be administered just prior to, during, or just after a driver performs a safety-sensitive function. Random testing for controlled substances can be conducted at any time, so long the driver is notified first.
Post-accident testing must be administered for all CDL drivers who are:
- involved in fatal crashes;
- cited for moving violations arising from a crash that involves a vehicle being towed or an injury requiring medical attention away from the scene.
An alcohol test must be conducted within eight hours of the crash. A controlled substances test must be conducted within 32 hours of the crash.
The official testing procedures are based on those established by the Department of Health and Human Services. These procedures include urine sample collection, laboratory procedures, and reporting and recordkeeping of final results. Only laboratories certified by HHS under the National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP) may be used. A driver who has tested positive for any of the substances will be notified and may discuss the positive test results with a qualified Medical Review Officer (MRO) before a result is reported to the employer. The driver will have an opportunity to explain any special circumstances to the MRO. The MRO has the authority and responsibility for reporting the results to the carrier’s alcohol and drug program for further action.
A driver who has violated DOT alcohol and drug regulations or who refuses to submit to a test is prohibited from performing DOT safety-sensitive duties for any motor carrier until he or she completes the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) evaluation, referral and education treatment process.
Legal claims for drug testing
Because Pennsylvania law doesn’t put any limits on workplace drug testing, employees who believe their test was illegally performed will have to rely on other legal theories. For example, an employer may run into legal trouble based on who is tested or how the test is conducted. Here are some examples:
Disability discrimination: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects an applicant or employee who is taking medication for a disability. Some prescribed medications can result in a positive result on a drug test, and some drugs that would otherwise be illegal (such as opiates) are legitimately prescribed for certain conditions. If an applicant is turned down because of a positive drug test, and the applicant’s medication was legally prescribed for a disability, the company could be liable (unless the drug is medical marijuana).
Other discrimination claims: An employer who singles out certain groups of employees – for example, by race, age, or gender – for drug testing could face a discrimination claim.
Invasion of privacy: Even an employer who has a legitimate reason to require a drug test might violate employee privacy in the way the test was conducted. For example, requiring employees to disrobe or provide a urine sample in front of others could be a privacy violation, depending on the circumstances.
Defamation: An employee might have a valid claim for defamation if the employer publicizes a false positive result, or if the employer acted in bad faith and knew (or should have known) that the results of the drug test were incorrect.