By Amanda Current
This information is provided for educational purposes only. Reader retains full responsibility for the use of the information contained herein.
When one thinks of Iowa, thoughts of rolling prairies, fields of corn, and farmland may come to mind. In the heart of the Midwest, a lot of people have been working in the Hawkeye State, which has been experiencing historically low unemployment rates since 2017. The pandemic inevitably shook that up a bit, but with things slowly inching toward normalcy and employment rising in the state yet again, it pays to know what to expect when it comes to drug testing in this ever-growing market.
Top 5 Things to Know about Drug Testing in Iowa:
- Drug Testing Law Type: Friendly. This means that Iowa is a pro-drug testing state, but some exceptions apply. Employers may require employees and job applicants to submit to drug testing as a condition of continued employment or hiring. However, employers are only allowed to perform random testing within the confines of their written policy. Post-accident testing may occur only when administered by a person providing treatment, not at the request of the employer. In regard to safety-sensitive workers, such workers are defined by both the nature of their jobs and the location wherein they work. Safety-sensitive employees can only be tested within one group of employees even if their job fits into multiple groups.
- Workers’/Unemployment Compensation Denial: According to Iowa Code Ann. 85. 16-2(b), there is a presumption of intoxication if the employee has a positive drug test at the time of or immediately following the injury. If the employee tests positive for alcohol, narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, or other hypnotic drugs that were not prescribed by a medical practitioner and were not used in accordance with that prescription, the burden of proof then falls on the employee. (Iowa Code Ann. 85.16-2(b))
- Marijuana Laws: Medical marijuana is not permitted in Iowa, but the state permits medical cannabidiol (low THC CBD oil). The medical cannabidiol law contains guidelines for employers pertaining to marijuana use in the workplace. (Iowa Code 124E.21) Employers are not required to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, distribution, sale, or growing of marijuana in the workplace. (Iowa Code 124E.21) Recreational and adult use marijuana are not permitted.
- A Major Case Law Decision: Lucas Woods v. Charles Gabus Ford, Inc. In 2019, Charles Gabus Ford, Inc. (Gabus Ford) fired Lucas Woods when he failed an employee drug test. Woods filed a petition at law asserting he was wrongfully terminated because Gabus Ford violated Iowa Code section 730.5 (2017)—Iowa’s private sector employee drug- and alcohol-testing statute. After a bench trial, the district court dismissed Woods’ petition. Woods later appealed on three counts. The court upheld the first two claims but reversed based on his third claim that Gabus Ford failed to include the cost of the confirmatory drug test in its notice as required by section 730.5, which violated the statute, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings.
- How to Test: This friendly drug testing state allows for hair, blood, urine, or oral fluid/saliva to be tested. If the sample being given requires the removal of an article of clothing, a hair sample, or a urine sample, individual privacy should be upheld unless there is reason to believe an individual will alter or substitute their sample. The collector must also split the sample provided into two samples, one to be tested immediately and one for later testing if necessary. If a confirmed positive test result is reported to the employer, the employer must notify the employee in writing by mail, return receipt requested, of the results of the test, the employee’s right to request and obtain a confirmatory test of the second sample collected, and the fee payable by the employee to the employer for reimbursement of expenses concerning the test.
 Iowa Administrative Code Section 641, Chapter 12 https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/aco/chapter/641.12.pdf
 Iowa Code Ann. 85.16 https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/code/2019/85.16.pdf
 Iowa Code 124E.21 https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/ico/chapter/124E.pdf
 Lucas Woods v. Charles Gabus Ford, Inc. https://law.justia.com/cases/iowa/court-of-appeals/2020/19-0002.html
 Iowa Code 730.5 Private sector drug-free workplaces. https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/code/2019/730.5.pdf