Ohio Drug Testing Laws 2024

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Ohio Drug Testing Laws 2024

Ohio drug testing laws allow employers to test applicants and employees in a wide range of circumstances. The state even motivates employers to have sophisticated drug testing policies and programs by allowing them to access discounts on workers' compensation. In Ohio, employers are limited to obtaining coverage exclusively from the state-operated Ohio workers' compensation fund. Eligibility for premium discounts of 6%, 12%, or 20% hinges on the comprehensiveness of the employer's drug-free safety program. To qualify for any discount, an employer's program must encompass essential components, including a documented policy, employee education, supervisor training, drug and alcohol testing, and an employee assistance program. For higher-tier discounts, employers are required to implement more advanced drug programs, coupled with the inclusion of a more extensive drug safety program.

In Ohio, termination of employment due to a failed drug test is generally permissible, even for individuals holding a medical marijuana card and who use marijuana for medical purposes. Nonetheless, employers are obligated to adhere to their established company drug testing policies consistently and without discrimination. For instance, terminating younger employees for medical marijuana use while exempting older workers could potentially lead to allegations of age-related discrimination.

Although an employer may have the legal authority to dismiss an employee following a positive drug test, many employers maintain policies mandating the referral of such employees to drug treatment programs or counseling, reflecting a commitment to employee well-being and rehabilitation.

While Ohio law permits employers to conduct drug tests, individuals, whether employees or applicants, may assert legal claims against the adverse actions taken by their employers in some cases, such as those involving:

  • Disability Discrimination: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals taking medications for their disabilities are protected. Some prescribed medications may appear in drug tests, and certain drugs legitimately prescribed for specific conditions, like opiates, can yield positive results. If an applicant is rejected due to a positive drug test and the medication is legally prescribed for a disability, the employer may be held liable
  • Invasion of Privacy: Even when drug testing is allowed or required, an employer might violate employee privacy through the testing process. For instance, practices like requiring employees to undress or provide urine samples in front of others may constitute privacy violations

What Kinds of Drug Tests Can Employers Conduct in Ohio?

Ohio employers are allowed to collect urine, blood, oral fluid, and other bodily fluid samples from applicants or employees for drug testing. Urine samples may be tested for any drug deemed illegal under federal law, including those categorized as Schedule I-V substances. Some of the scenarios in which Ohio employers conduct cannabis drug testing include:

  • Pre-Employment Testing: Employers often conduct drug tests as part of the pre-employment screening process
  • Random Testing: Random drug testing refers to the practice of conducting unannounced drug tests on employees without prior notice or predictable patterns
  • Reasonable Suspicion Testing: Drug tests may be administered if there is reasonable suspicion of drug use based on observable behavior
  • Post-Accident Testing: Following workplace accidents, employers may conduct drug tests to investigate potential impairment

Can Employers Do Random Drug Testing in Ohio?

Yes, Ohio drug testing laws allow employers to conduct random testing when required. While the state does not specifically require employers to notify employees of the possibility of random testing, many Ohio employers indicate in their drug testing policies that employees may be required to submit to non-discriminatory random testing periodically.

What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test in Ohio for a Job?

Ohio state law lacks specific regulations guiding employers on actions following a failed drug test. Failing a drug test may result in the employer choosing not to hire you, while the consequences of failing a random drug test depend on the employer's policies and the circumstances. In cases involving transportation or sensitive positions, federal law prohibits employers from hiring individuals who have failed the Department of Transportation drug test.

Per Rule 123:1-76-13 of the Ohio Administrative Code, an employee who has a positive drug test may ask for a re-test of the original sample. The laboratory performing such a re-test must be certified by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. While the employee will bear the cost for a re-test, the re-test request may not delay the imposition of the appropriate disciplinary action or referral to a drug abuse rehabilitation program.

Can I Be Fired for Refusing a Drug Test in Ohio?

A refusal to undergo an employer-mandated drug test, including not providing an adequate drug test sample, leaving the test area prior to providing an adequate sample, or failing to appear on time for testing for any reason, may be treated as a positive test by an employer. Consequently, the employer may terminate you or penalize you as outlined in the employer's drug test policy.

Can You Get Fired for Failing a Drug Test with a Medical Card in Ohio?

Although Ohio has enacted a medical marijuana law, the state legislature recognizes employer’s rights regarding testing employees for marijuana. In addition to permitting testing for medical marijuana cardholders, Ohio law allows employers to discharge employees for medical marijuana use even if they have valid medical marijuana cards. Termination under such a circumstance would be considered “for cause,” making the former employee ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits.

Can Employers Conduct Drug Tests on Applicants in Ohio?

Employers in Ohio are generally allowed to request job applicants to undergo drug screening as part of the hiring process. The types of drug screenings commonly conducted include urine, saliva, blood, and hair tests. While drug testing is permitted, there is limited legal protection for job applicants. Employers must adhere to certain guidelines to ensure fairness and compliance with applicable laws. Although employers may have the discretion to deny employment to applicants who fail drug tests, they are advised to ensure that drug testing policies are applied uniformly and do not discriminate against individuals.

While Ohio may not explicitly require employers to warn applicants about the possibility of drug testing during the interview process, ethical practices typically involve providing clear communication about any drug testing requirements. This helps applicants make informed decisions about the position. If an applicant refuses to undergo a drug test, the employer retains the right to make employment decisions based on that refusal.

Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing Allowed in Ohio?

Ohio allows employers to conduct pre-employment drug testing provided protocols observed for the action comply with applicable state and federal laws. A pre-employment drug test may be conducted when a conditional job offer is given, and the candidate must submit to a drug test before employment begins. It can also be required before CDL drivers are permitted to operate a commercial motor vehicle on a public road prior to them performing safety-sensitive functions.

Typically, pre-employment drug testing is conducted for safety- or security-sensitive positions or when required by federal laws or collective bargaining agreements. Some of the positions where pre-employment drug testing is commonly conducted include law enforcement, firefighters, commercial drivers, or those related to the operation of heavy machines or equipment.

Does Ohio Allow Public Agencies to Submit Employees to Workplace Drug Tests?

Yes, public agencies in Ohio are allowed to submit their employees to workplace drug tests as required. Ohio does not offer protection to employees of state or local government agencies in situations where their drug test results return positive.

Can Employers Choose to Create Drug-Free Workplace Policies?

Ohio allows employers to maintain drug-free workplaces by permitting them to enforce policies prohibiting the use of marijuana or other illegal substances in workplace environments. Despite the legalization of marijuana in the state, Ohio employers may continue to establish and enforce a drug testing policy, a drug-free workplace policy, and a zero-tolerance drug policy. Also, the state provides the following protections for employers:

  • Employers do not have to accommodate an employee's use, possession, or distribution of marijuana
  • Employers may penalize, refuse to hire, or take an adverse employment action against an employee because of that individual’s use, possession, or distribution of marijuana

Furthermore, an employee who is discharged from employment due to their use of marijuana in violation of an employer’s drug testing program or policy is considered to have been discharged for “just cause” pursuant to Ohio’s unemployment compensation law. The state does not permit an employee to bring legal action against an employer for disciplining, discriminating, discharging, retaliating, refusing to hire, or taking an adverse employment action against the employee related to the individual’s use of marijuana.

Employees Exempted From Ohio Workplace Drug Testing Laws

While Ohio’s drug testing laws do not specifically address exemptions for certain types of workers, certain types of workers are bound by federal drug testing laws. Federal employees, including those in safety-sensitive positions, are subject to federal drug testing regulations issued by agencies such as the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). These federal regulations supersede state laws, and employees in certain sectors, such as transportation, aviation, and law enforcement, may be subject to mandatory drug testing under federal guidelines.

What are the Requirements for Drug Testing Labs in Ohio?

Ohio employers may contract with third-party vendors to provide collection services for drug test samples, laboratory testing, and medical review of test results. However, the facility testing the samples must be certified by the Ohio Department of Administrative Services or abide by the regulations outlined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a federal department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Per Section 3701-53-07 of the Ohio Administrative Code, a drug testing laboratory must have a written procedure manual of all analytical techniques or methods used for testing drugs in bodily substances. Also, tests for a drug of abuse in bodily substances must be performed in a laboratory by a laboratory director or a laboratory technician. Laboratory personnel may not perform a technique or analysis method not listed on the laboratory director's permit.

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