What are Texas Laws Regarding Drug Testing?

Many employers require their employees to submit to drug tests to demonstrate that they are not surreptitiously using illegal drugs on the job. As a result, thousands of Texas workers will have to take a drug test at some point or another. This applies to minimum-wage fast food workers as well as white-collar professionals.

Drug testing can be quite controversial, and its legality has been called into question several times over the years by civil rights activists and labor advocates. Texas has its own set of rules and regulations regarding drug testing—who can perform it, when it is legal and when someone can be fired because of it.

Private vs. public employers

The rules for drug testing vary depending on whether an employer is in the private or public sector. There are practically no limits on the drug testing that a private employer can conduct. However, government employers must have a compelling justification for performing a drug test. Otherwise, administering drug tests on employees could constitute an unreasonable search and seizure.

Reasons for drug testing

Employers may have many valid reasons for performing drug tests. These reasons may include:

  • Concern that there is a problem with substance abuse among workers
  • Insurance policies that require drug testing
  • Job duties that require sobriety
  • State or federal regulations
  • Reducing workplace accidents or crimes

Drug testing in Texas

The State of Texas requires companies that employ at least 15 people to enact comprehensive drug reduction policies, most of which include drug testing. An employer must give this policy in writing to its staff to sign. Employers cannot perform drug tests on employees who have not given their written consent. While workers do have the option of refusing to sign the policy, it is usually possible to fire them for declining.

Some employers choose to require pre-employment drug testing in order to screen potential applicants for drug use. Another option is for companies to enforce random drug testing multiple times a year for its current employees. In Texas, this is perfectly legal for private employers. Both public and private-sector employees who fail a drug test face the risk of termination.

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