Drug Testing in the Workplace – Violates Privacy and is bad for Business
Drug testing employees has gained much support, as well as much resistance, in recent years. Those in favor of testing claim that employee drug testing reduces employee absences, theft, and accidents in the workplace and as such improves worker productivity and safety. In her essay, “A Case against Workplace Drug Testing,” Debra R. Comer makes an argument against workplace drug testing by identifying six individual “problems with drug testing” (Comer 259). Through an examination of statistical research into the effectiveness of drug testing in the workplace she “identifies the misconceptions about drug use and testing, underscores the technological limitations of testing, and reviews research on individuals’ negative response to workplace testing” (Comer 259). Of the six problems Comer identifies to support her argument against workplace drug testing I believe three are the best arguments to support that workplace drug testing is a violation of employee privacy and is ultimately bad for business.
The first of Comer’s arguments that I find compelling is that the technology behind the testing is flawed and limited. Drug testing is expensive so employers typically use the less expensive immunoassay (Comer 261) test which can identify specific substances in a sample of urine or blood. The problem with this type of testing is that there are instances of false positives where employees who haven’t taken drugs actually test positive. Certain foods like poppy seeds, over-the-counter cold and pain relief medications and legally prescribed medications as well as some metabolic diseases, diabetes for example, can cause employees to test positive for drugs.
Technology is not 100% accurate even in the best of circumstances. The laboratory testing the employee’s blood or urine can make mistakes and may not meet the standards for laboratory certification set by the National
Cited: ACLU Comer DeCresce, Robert P., Mark S. Lifshitz, Adrianne C. Mazura, and Joseph E. Tilson. Drug Testing in the Workplace. Chicago: American Society of Clinical Pathologists Press, 1989. Print. Dusek, Dorothy E., Daniel A. Girdano. Drugs: A Factual Account. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993. Print.