How can I find a new job that does NOT require drug testing without cause?
May 29, 2007 2:04 PM   Subscribe

How can I find a new job that does NOT require drug testing without cause?

At my current job I am subject to random drug test. At my last job we were subject to drug tests only if the employer felt there was cause or need to test (workplace accident might be one cause, exteme neglect of duties could be another). Now, I don't take illegal drugs at this point in time. And any such time period is well behind me so I wouldn't possibly test positive for illegal drugs unless it's a false positive.

I am interested in getting a new job (IT field) and would like to find a job with an employer that does not test for drugs unless there is cause. First and foremost this is an issue of privacy. Secondly, I might want to occasionally smoke pot with my significant other. I have never smoked often enough so that it caused issues with my job performance.

I know I could just simply ask about drug testing but my understanding is that something like this can raise a red flag up front even when it is again, first and foremost, an issue of personal privacy.

How does one go about finding a job with no testing or testing based only on reasonable cause?

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posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Small business and non-profits have a lower chance of testing, probably because of cause. The only time ive been tested wat at jobs at large-ish companies. Anything retail or customer service (or driving, or working with kids) where you have a lot of teens of college age people has a good chance of a drug test.

All you have to do is call a company's HR department and ask. So if you're applying for some job just call and ask. Probably best not to identify yourself.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:13 PM on May 29, 2007

When the government drug tests someone it is considered a search under the 4th Amendment, and therefore can only be done for cause. So, get a job working for Federal, State or local government.
posted by ND¢ at 2:23 PM on May 29, 2007

For what it's worth, I don't know of any companies in the IT field that have random drug screens. I suspect it's because people with IT skills are harder to get, and it's insulting to potential applicants to demand a drug screen. However, calling the HR department anonymously and asking seems like the most straightforward approach.
posted by mullingitover at 2:30 PM on May 29, 2007

In my experience, most IT companies simply don't drug test, and I have been told that doing so would too significantly shrink their pool of potential employees.

You can always call, though.
posted by zebra3 at 2:32 PM on May 29, 2007

Avoid companies that have HR departments all together.

Really, drug testing is absurdly prevalent in many mid-sized to largish IT companies for little reason other than the fact that insurance companies and the drug screening industry have teamed up against clueless HR departments to scare them witless about the potential liabilities of hiring "pot fiends."

Shouldn't this stuff be weeded (heh) out in the interview? I mean, shouldn't the person conducting the interview be able to tell if someone is a junkie? (Interestingly companies don't test for alcoholism which I'm sure is the leading cause of the problems they think they are avoiding by having drug testing.)

Oh, I'm sorry. I've gone on a rant, but this issue really ticks me off. I've had to take two or three drug tests in my day and each one has been an invasive hassle. The very idea of pissing in a cup for employment is humiliating and the potential for abuse (covert pregnancy testing, ladies?) is great. I suspect that eventually people will have to take drug tests to secure bank loans, rent an apartment, get a drivers license, and receive collage aid...

But, back to your question. The fact is you're very likely to encounter drug testing in IT. But thats only during the interview process. Random drug screening is highly uncommon in this field, in fact, I've never heard of it.

Basically the rule is that if you're unemployed or actively looking for a job, you shouldn't be getting high anyway, should you? So stay clean for a few months till you get to a place you like (and pass the drug test) and then feel free to light up.
posted by wfrgms at 2:32 PM on May 29, 2007

Most jobs in the entertainment industry (Hollywood studios, production companies, etc.) require one-time testing when you're first getting hired. Thereafter they don't test.

Think about it: how else would so many drug-crazed loons end up with sucessful careers in Hollywood? Or, alternately, how else would so many people with successful Hollywood careers get into trouble with drug abuse? The On Air / "Talent" folk you hear about getting into trouble are just the tip of the iceberg in the industry; a lot of the backroom people (producers, executives) are just as nuts as the rehab-prone stars they market.

I work in IT, too, and in my experience working for three different entertainment companies out here in La-la-land, the studios don't even do a damn thing when it's clear some of their employees are using at the office and making life miserable for other employees! For example, at my last job, we all knew my old boss used to buy his stuff from the make-up department lady and he'd be high as a kite all day at work, going on two-hour-long drug-fueled rants pep talks at 7:30 AM about how we were going to smother the competition. Some of my co-workers were pretty messed up too, while a not insignificant number of my other co-workers, who had worked in the industry longer, were openly and actively in AA, NA, or other sobriety organizations. They had to be, to be able to make it in that kind of environment.

This kind of a wacky industry makes those of us who push for sensible drug decriminalization and medicinial marijuana intiatives -- like me, I openly support the MPP, and I use our company's matching gifts program to match my yearly 501(c) contributions to them -- look downright naive and boring.

So go work for an entertainment company or a Hollywood studio; the IT work is interesting and even fun, there's a lot of expansion into new online initiatives which translates into a steady future job supply, and they're not really going to care what the heck you do with your personal life as long as you work hard.
posted by Asparagirl at 2:44 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 is why testing occurs for most jobs.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 2:56 PM on May 29, 2007

Companies that drug test. Checked my state - seems somewhat accurate from what I know.
posted by unixrat at 2:59 PM on May 29, 2007

ND¢ , that is blatantly false. In National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab (1989) the Supreme Court ruled that government employees' in sensitive positions may be subject to random drug testing and gave government agencies wide latitude to define which employees' positions are so sensitive as to require drug testing. Federal law has required all government employees to be drug free on and off the job since 1986, and you can be fired with no notice for doing any illegal drug in your free time.

As of 2004, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that all 1.6 million federal employees were eligible to be tested and that SAMSHA tests about 200,000 workers each year. Most state governments have followed the feds' lead.
posted by decathecting at 3:01 PM on May 29, 2007

I think you should avoid companies with such policies completely. does your job require a security clearance and do they pay accordingly? they are going way over the top with this invasion of your privacy. there are LOTS of IT jobs out there where you don't have to deal with this kind of ... I will stop here, their behavior pisses me off too much.
posted by krautland at 3:06 PM on May 29, 2007

Don't quote Von Raab to me son. I was studying Von Raab when you were in diapers. IT workers aren't in safety sensitive positions by any stretch of the imagination nor will they be. If you work in IT for the government you can't be randomly tested.
posted by ND¢ at 3:24 PM on May 29, 2007

SAMSHA disagrees. They maintain that they have the right to test any employee they wish. I'm sure they'd argue that people who have control over large electronic doohickies with lots of blinky lights and fancy wires, and fans are in very dangerous jobs. Or some such nonsense. The point is not that they're incorrect under the law; I agree with you, they're incorrect. The point is that they may try to drug test a person who holds such a job, and the employee would have to refuse the test, lose the job, and sue in order to prove otherwise.

Furthermore, many government IT jobs are defined as sensitive and now require security clearances, which carry separate random drug testing requirements.

My point is that you shouldn't assume a job is safe from random drug testing simply because it's with the government.
posted by decathecting at 3:37 PM on May 29, 2007

ND¢, another vote for inaccurate. I can tell you that the jobs I held (in both federal and local gov't) required pre-employment drug checks, AND testing at random - you had to give your permission for random screenings via signed waiver before you were extended a formal offer. Some of the positions weren't security-sensitive positions either. (They also required a full physical and blood work-up, too, which I found strange since I wasn't doing any manual labor.)

While it may technically be true that the 4th amendment protects you against random gov't drug tests, my experience is that all it takes is a requirement that you waive that right insofar as the drug testing is concerned.
posted by aberrant at 4:05 PM on May 29, 2007

and I should add that the gov't positions I held were in IT.
posted by aberrant at 4:07 PM on May 29, 2007

Von Raab doesn't validate just "safety" reasons for drug testing, but also national security reasons. National Security can easily be argued to encompass virtually anyone with any sort of IT job worth having.

ND¢'s statement that drug tests "can only be done for cause" is true to a degree, but not if you use "for cause" in the same sense that the OP does. In ND¢'s comment, "for cause" means... "for any reason that the federal government deems 'reasonable'" -- which could very easily entail random drug testing for a great many positions (yes, even IT positions).

Does Von Raab give blanket license to drug test anyone on the Federal payroll? No. The tests just have to be "reasonable" by Fourth Amendment standards. Even a cursory study of Fourth Amendment law reveals this to be a far lower standard than the OP would likely prefer from his employer.

Besides... the Government, last I checked, often required you to give them persmission -- (On preview... exactly what aberrant said)
posted by toomuchpete at 4:12 PM on May 29, 2007

Erowid on drug testing. I was about to get a job where I would have been tested once before employment. I wasn't sure when the test would be and didn't feel like abstaining. I comforted myself by making plans to fool the test.
(The job ended up not working out, which is just as well. I would also rather not work for such people. But just in case. . . )
posted by mai at 5:23 PM on May 29, 2007

Get a job outside of the USA..

.. just a thought :)
posted by lundman at 5:28 PM on May 29, 2007

Or just ask, do you drug test?
posted by Max Power at 6:05 PM on May 29, 2007

Every company that I've worked for that performed random tests had some kind of high-risk area, like a distribution centre, packing, or assembly. The testing really was for safety concerns where large equipment and such were used. I am almost positive that it was a condition by insurers to keep rates low. I guessed that to avoid the appearance of discriminating, all employees, regardless of whether they working in the high-risk areas, had to be randomly tested.

So, my advice is to avoid companies that would have a high-risk employee pool that would require testing to ensure low insurance costs. Now how you figure that out is a question left to the reader.
posted by qwip at 9:38 PM on May 29, 2007

The small-to-middling IT and related companies I've worked for haven't required drug testing. I would be pretty loath to work somewhere that required drug tests for people not operating dangerous machinery (machine tools, buses, etc.), and I don't even partake.
posted by hattifattener at 9:53 PM on May 29, 2007

I completely sympathize as I have a shy bladder, and have to drink 40oz of water before I go in (which in turn raises the flag that I'm trying to dilute, but I've been hired after doing so.) I'd rather take a blood drug test than urine, but they just don't do that.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:44 AM on May 30, 2007

Avoid jobs in healthcare, as they will be more likely to test for drugs.

Most liberal PRIVATE colleges and universities do not test for drugs unless there is cause.
posted by mds35 at 10:33 AM on May 30, 2007

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