Need Help Understanding North Carolina’s Drug Test Laws?

Can my employer require a drug test?

Employers may require a drug test at any time, although most are used (a) after an applicant has a conditional job offer; (b) after an accident; (c) upon reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence; or (d) randomly and without notice.

What information must the Employer provide?

An employer must provide written notice to applicants and employees of their rights and responsibilities under the Act before a test is conducted. This notice should include a statement of the employee’s right to have any positive sample retested. Within thirty days of receiving test results, the employer must notify the employee of the results and remind the employee of his or her right to re-test the sample within ninety days.

What if I believe the test is a false positive?

All positive samples have to be confirmed with the use of gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (or an equivalent scientifically accepted method). A confirmed positive sample must be retained by the laboratory for 90 days. An examinee has the right to retest a confirmed positive sample at the same or another approved laboratory. The examiner has to make the sample available; the examinee has to request the release of the sample in writing, indicating to which laboratory the sample should be sent; the examinee pays all reasonable expenses for the re-testing.

Can the Employer drug test at the work place?

Employers may collect samples at the work site as long as the process preserves individual dignity. But, the employer must be able to show that the chain of custody was protected. The employer must also preserve the sample for ninety days after the employee is told of the results. An employer may not screen an employee’s sample on-site. The rules allow screening an applicant’s sample on-site, but any positive result must then be confirmed by testing at an approved laboratory.

What if the Employer doesn’t follow these procedures?

If an employer fires an employee based on a drug test result but has not followed the proper procedures, the employee might be able to sue for wrongful discharge. A recent North Carolina Supreme Court case suggests that an employee can sue if the employer knew or should have known of the defective procedure before deciding to discharge the employee.