When is Drug and Alcohol Testing Permissible Under Minnesota Law?

In Minnesota, employers may conduct drug and alcohol testing only if they follow certain rules.  The Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act says that testing may only be done:

  • For job applicants, but only where a conditional offer has been made and testing is required for all applicants for that position;
  • As part of an annual routine physical examination;
  • On a random basis, but only if the employee is in a safety sensitive position or is a professional athlete and the testing is conducted in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement;
  • Where an employer has ”reasonable suspicion” that the employee is under the influence; has violated written work rules regarding drugs or alcohol, has caused a personal injury or caused a work related accident, or was involved in operating machinery involved in a work related accident; and
  • Where the employee is involved in chemical dependency treatment after being referred by the employer or under an employee benefit plan.

See Minn. Stat. § 181.951.

To conduct testing, an employer must have a written policy that describes who is subject to testing, the circumstances under which testing will be done, the right of any employee or applicant to refuse testing and the consequences, any adverse action that may be taken on test results, the right of employees and applicants to explain positive results and the right to request and pay for confirmatory retests.  See Minn. Stat. § 181.952.

The statute contains certain notice and posting requirements.  Employees have the right to request copies of test results, to have confirmatory retests at the employee’s own expense and to explain test results that may be the result of prescription medications or other information that is relevant to the reliability of a positive test result.  Employers may not discharge employees on a first positive test result unless the employee has first been given the chance to participate in a counseling or rehabilitation program and the employee has either refused to participate or failed to successfully complete the program.  With limited exceptions, test results are to be kept confidential.  See Minn. Stat. § 181.953; see also Minn. Stat. § 181.954.

Takeaway:  Any employer conducting drug or alcohol testing in Minnesota must have a written policy and carefully follow the rules related to such testing.

About Sally Scoggin

Sally is a shareholder in the Employment, Benefits, and Labor section at Briggs and Morgan, P.A. and is an MSBA Certified Specialist in Labor and Employment Law. Her practice focuses on employment counseling and litigation for a broad range of clients, including health care clients. For Sally’s full bio and contact information, click here.

Posted on May 25, 2012, in Drug and Alcohol Testing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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