By Amanda Jones, Staff Writer & Editor at Current Consulting Group (CCG)
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Washington is known as the Evergreen State. The state has no shortage of natural beauties to attract a thriving workforce to the area. With such a vibrant population, Washington has few drug testing laws, but some do exist in certain sectors. Regardless, it’s important to know what to expect to ensure workers are drug-free and stay safe and the state can continue to flourish. Here are the top 5 things you should know about drug testing in Washington:
- Drug testing law type: Washington does not have a drug testing statute; therefore, no statutory restrictions apply. However, there is a separate law that requires DOT-covered employers to report certain information to the state DOT.
- Random testing: Random drug testing is permitted. In most safety-sensitive positions, random testing may be required.
- Workers’/Unemployment compensation: An individual will be disqualified from benefits if s/he has been discharged or suspended for misconduct or gross misconduct connected with his/her work. Alcoholism does not constitute a defense to disqualification from benefits due to misconduct.
- Marijuana laws: Washington state has legalized recreational marijuana use for adults over the age of 21, but employers are still allowed to maintain drug-free workplace policies and conduct drug testing. One landmark court case that informed drug testing policies in Washington state is the case of Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Management (2009). In 1998, the people of Washington voted to protect medical marijuana users against prosecution in the Washington State Medical Use of Marijuana Act (MUMA). In this case, the employee, Roe, sued TeleTech after she was terminated from her position after testing positive for marijuana during her pre-employment drug test. She claimed that MUMA protected her right to use marijuana for medical purposes. However, the court held that MUMA does not protect an individual from being terminated from employment. Though, it is important to note that a new bill recently passed (Senate Bill 5123) in both the Washington State House and Senate that would prohibit employers from terminating employees solely based on marijuana use. The bill has not become law yet, but it is something to monitor.
- DOT results: The state requires all Medical Review Officers (MRO) or Breath Alcohol Technicians (BAT) hired or contracted by a motor carrier or employer subject to 49 CFR Part 40 to report confirmed positive results to the state Department of Transportation. Provisions also exist for 49 CFR Part 655.
While Washington employers are not tightly controlled by state laws, it is important to know what rights an individual employer has in order to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.
© 2010-2023 The Current Consulting Group, LLC – No portion of this article may be reproduced, retransmitted, posted on a website, or used in any manner without the written consent of the Current Consulting Group, LLC. When permission is granted to reproduce this article in any way, full attribution to the author and copyright holder is required. https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=50.20.060  https://legiscan.com/WA/bill/SB5123/2023  https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=69.51a