Last updated: June 29, 2020
Rhode Island drug testing locations
Rhode Island drug testing laws
As provided by federal law, only a certain number of Rhode Island employees are required to undergo drug testing. However, the federal government also has a stipulation requiring all employees working in safety-sensitive industries such as transportation or aviation be submitted to drug testing. For instance, an applicant seeking a job with NASA as a federal contractor or in the Department of Defense will be required to take a drug test. The federal government doesn’t take a position of whether private employers must make employees take drug tests. For the private employers, state and local laws determine whether drug testing is required.
Drug testing for Rhode Island applicants
In Rhode Island, job applicants may be required to submit to a drug test by an employer upon applying for employment. The applicants must, however, be given the opportunity to supply test samples in privacy without the knowledge of any other person. If a positive result is obtained after the test, the results must be retested by a certified federal laboratory for confirmation. And while the employer can then chose not to hire the applicant, he or she may not reveal the results of the drug test to other parties.
Drug testing for employees in Rhode Island
Once hired, an employer can request that an employee be subjected to drug testing only if reasonable grounds exist. This includes concrete observation which makes the employer causing him or her to believe that the employee may be under the influence of drugs and it is hindering job performance. Aside from this situation, a Rhode Island employee cannot be submitted to drug testing. Just as in the case of applicants, the employee must be allowed private submission of the test samples in the presence of no other person. If the drug test result is positive, a retest must be done by a certified federal laboratory for confirmation.
Cost of drug testing for employee
The cost associated with the employee submitting to drug testing must be paid for by the employer. If a positive test result occurs, the employee can request a second test for drugs and alcohol, also at the expense of the employer.
Implication of positive drug testing result on an employee
If the drug testing has a positive result or drugs or alcohol, job termination is not necessarily automatic. However, should an employer chose to retain the employee, he or she must be referred to a certified substance abuse professional. Once such a program is completed, the employer may request additional drug testing. If the results additional drug testing are positive and imply that the employee is a substance addict, the employer then can terminate the employee with no repercussions.
Implication of violating drug testing laws
Under Rhode Island law, violation of any of the drug test provisions by the employers amounts to a misdemeanor. Any employer committing such a crime may be subjected to fines, claims for punitive damages, and attorney fees. Furthermore, applicants and employees can claim some legal rights depending on certain conditions, such as how the test was conducted, who was tested, or how the test results were used. Below are a few examples:
- Disability discrimination: Any applicant or employee taking medication for his or her disability is protected by the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). If any of these prescribed medications are revealed while the applicant or employee is undergoing drug testing, and the employee or applicant is sanctioned based on a positive drug test (which was as a result of legitimately prescribed illegal drugs, such as opiates, for certain conditions), the employer may be liable if the medication was legally prescribed for a disability and being used appropriately.
- Other discrimination claims: It is unlawful for an employer to select only certain groups of employees to undergo drug testing. For example, selection by race, by age, or by gender for drug testing can result in an employer being found guilty of a discrimination.
- Invasion of privacy: An employer is allowed under Rhode Island law to require an employee to undergo drug testing. If such an employer violates an employee’s privacy by requiring that the employee provide a urine sample in the presence of others, this can be interpreted as an invasion of privacy and subject to liability.
- Defamation: In a situation whereby an employer stated publicly that the employee tested positive, and the employer is aware or had reason to know that the test result was negative, the employer could be charged with defamation.
Workers’ compensation claims
If a worker is involved in an accident and the employer suspected the employee’s use of drug or alcohol caused it, a worker can be asked to undergo post-accident drug testing. If the results of the test are positive and the employee is terminated, he or she may be denied workers’ compensation claims. Additionally, a worker who sustained injury, died, or caused injury or death of another by willful intention or by intoxication shall be refused compensation.
Rhode Island drug-free workplace
The importance of operating a Drug-Free Workplace cannot be over emphasized. The State of Rhode Island encourages businesses across the State to be Drug-Free Workplaces. The advantages of having a drug-free workplace are numerous to both the employers and the employees, some of which are: decrease in employee absenteeism, decrease in employee turnover, decrease in theft,
and an increase in customer service and employee morale.
The following standard should be utilized when establishing a company drug-free workplace program:
- The employer must have a written drug and alcohol policy and make it available to all employees.
- The types of employee drug testing should be pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion, and post-accident.
- Provision of certified laboratory and qualified Medical Review Officer.
- Employee assistance program for substance abuse treatment (EAP).
- Supervisor and employee education program.
- Maintain all other required documentation of a drug-free workplace program.
Rhode Island medical marijuana
Under Rhode Island law, there is a provision allowing the use of prescribed medical marijuana. No employers are allowed to discriminate against an employee based on the fact that such employee is a qualified medical marijuana user. However, in a bid to ensure a drug-free workplace, employers are not prohibited from disallowing medical marijuana in the workplace.
Use of medical marijuana by employees of the Department of Transportation (DOT) or other safety-sensitive departments is prohibited. Medical marijuana is not permitted to be used in public.