Recent years, employee privacy rights become a crucial question for many organizations. Every organization follows state and federal laws that regulate relationship between employees and an employer. These laws and regulations include the rules on respecting employee privacy during the process of investigation or work monitoring. Taking into account current laws and privacy rights, it is evident that “drug use is information that is rightfully private and only in exceptional cases can an employer claim a right to know about such use”.
Only in exceptional cases an employer can claim a right to know about drug use, because inaccuracy in tests is also high, and this inaccuracy of the results can prevent many people to obtain high paid job. Studies (Cohn et al, 2001) show that citizen concerns about drug abuse are greatest with respect to the realms most removed from their daily experience, but not work-related accidents.
Also, the threat of job loss is a powerful sanction that would lead otherwise reluctant citizens to comply with observed drug tests in the workplace. On the other hand, if drug tests are permitted it can cause a wave of protests organized by drug addicts and people who lose their jobs because of inaccurate tests and violation of privacy rights (Arthur, Doverspike, 1997). The best policy is to introduce drug testing for all applicants in order to ensure public safety and create safe working environment for employees.
“Important advantage for the employer is that, by having a pre-employment screening policy in place, you discourage drug abusers from applying in the first place” (Cohn et al, 2001). Drug tests should be applied to high risk jobs (for instance, school-bus drivers) if a mistake can cause death of innocent people or environmental damage. In sum, employee privacy rights in the workplace are still litigated issue and as expected will be in future.
The best solution is that procedures for protecting the individual’s privacy and for guaranteeing the accuracy of tests should be defined simultaneously, and the actions taken with respect to individuals who test positive must be clearly stated and agreed to by each worker prior to testing.
1. Arthur, W. Jr. , Doverspike, D. (1997). Employment-Related Drug Testing: Idiosyncratic Characteristics and Issues. Public Personnel Management, 26, p. 77. 2. Cohn, A. , Griffin, S. Keller, A. (2001). Developing a Drug Testing Policy at a Public University: Participant Perspectives. Public Personnel Management, 30, p. 467.