What to Know About Pre-Employment Drug Screening in Arkansas

Your company is considering drug testing new hires. So, what can you and can’t you do? Here’s what you need to know about pre-employment drug screening in Arkansas.

Is Pre-Employment Drug Screening Required or Restricted in Arkansas?

Arkansas has no specific laws either requiring or restricting general drug testing. The state does, however, sponsor a drug-free workplace program. Companies with programs certified by the state’s labor department qualify for discounts on workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

If They Choose to Screen, Do Companies Have to Follow Any Rules?

Although employers have the right to test, there also are regulations in place to protect applicants and employees. For example, companies must include a notice about drug testing requirements within their Help Wanted ads. Additionally, screening needs to be standardized. Employers should either test ALL applicants or reasonable classifications of employees. (A reasonable classification could include all positions involving a potentially dangerous activity like operating heavy machinery.) If your organization is thinking about starting a pre-employment drug screening program, speak with a lawyer first. The rules can be complicated and often vary by city and/or county.

Are There Any Applicable Federal Laws?

The federal government requires drug screening in a few safety-sensitive industries. For instance, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates testing for employees who drive commercial trucks and buses. Other laws, such as those enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) may also apply. Let’s say a company decided to drug test men but not women. This could lead to gender discrimination lawsuit. Yet, beyond these examples, the federal government offers little guidance.

What If a Potential Employee Uses Medical Marijuana?

Arkansas is one of over 30 states that has legalized the use of medical marijuana. This can present a problem for employers. Is it fair to deny someone a job because they use an approved medicine when they are off duty? Different states have different rules. But according to Arkansas Constitutional Amendment 98, “employers with 9 or more employees may not discriminate against applicants or employees based on past or present status as a medical marijuana cardholder.” This ruling does NOT apply to those in safety-sensitive positions including police, fire, medical, drivers or people who operate machinery.

What If a Drug Screen Comes Back Positive?

If an applicant fails a drug test, you can’t automatically disqualify them. Outside of marijuana, some prescription and over-the-counter medications may cause a false positive. Arkansas law protects against inaccurate results by allowing individuals the right to contest or explain results. Your screening company and/or legal team can clarify this process. After all, you want to give everyone a fair chance.

Is Your Organization Struggling with Pre-Employment Screening?

Let FirstStaff do the work for you. Our recruiters place light industrial workers, office staff and other professionals in Little Rock, Arkansas and beyond. Whether you’re looking for a permanent employee or a temporary fill-in, we deliver pre-screened talent that’s ready to go to work. Learn more about the advantages of partnering with FirstStaff today!

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