As a manager, I am responsible for hiring and firing dozens of employees every year. I interview dozens more. In our state, it is legal to require drug and alcohol testing prior to hiring and at any time after hiring, providing there is reasonable suspicion that a person is either using or intoxicated on the job. We also perform random drug testing.

On more than one occasion, I have been interviewing a person and when I tell them about the drug testing policy, they get up and walk out. “If you are selected, we will send you for a drug test,” I’ll say. “Thanks, but no thanks,” is what I get in return. At least they are honest enough to not try to deceive me.

When a person is selected for random drug testing, especially my younger employees, they often do not show up for testing. This is results in their immediate dismissal. No doubt these kids were partying over the weekend and don’t want to get caught.

Because many of my employees are working in areas that are either dangerous to themselves or they are put in charge of children, having clean and sober employees is essential. However, what they do on their own time, during the weekends really should be their business. A kid who smokes a little weed on the weekends should be able to do his work a few days later without being fired – but that’s not the way it works in the company I work for. Maybe I’m saving the employee from himself, but I doubt it. More likely, I’m using the workplace to enforce socially-acceptable behavior.

In other states, the ability to drug test is severely limited. Over the years it will be interesting to see if drug testing provides for a safer workplace, or if it is just in place to protect the employer from workers’ compensation cases when a worker hurts themselves or others while intoxicated.