Washington D.C. Drug Testing Laws 2024

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Washington DC Drug Testing Laws 2024

Washington DC has no workplace drug testing law. However, certain laws specifically address drug testing in the District. The District of Columbia Code, Section 32–931, states that an employer may only test a prospective employee for marijuana use after a conditional offer of employment has been extended. This law, however, does not require employers to permit or accommodate the use of marijuana in the workplace or at any time during employment.

Also, the Cannabis Employment Protection Amendment Act of 2022 prohibits employers from penalizing employees based on their use of cannabis without additional factors indicating impairment. Exceptions are, however, made for employees in safety-sensitive positions and federal employees.

What Kinds of Drug Tests Can Employers Conduct in Washington DC?

There is no specified list of drugs that employers in Washington DC can test for. However, employers generally test for marijuana, meth, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and phencyclidine. Employers often conduct drug tests for marijuana to detect THC metabolites. Generally, employers conduct the following kinds of drug tests for cannabis in Washington DC:

  • Reasonable Suspicion Test: This kind of drug test is conducted on employees who have displayed a pattern of unsafe work behavior or show signs of being unfit for duty. It is usually done to ensure the safety and well-being of the employee and other coworkers
  • Random Test: This test is conducted on employees who are selected randomly through an unpredictable and non-discriminatory process
  • Pre-Employment Test: Passing a drug test can be made a condition of employment. With this approach, a prospective employee has to undergo a drug test prior to resuming their role. However, Washington DC law explicitly prohibits employers from testing prospective employees for marijuana unless a conditional letter of employment has been extended
  • Post-Accident Test: This kind of test is conducted on employees who were involved in a workplace accident to determine whether alcohol or other drug use was a contributing factor to the accident

Washington DC laws do not regulate what specimen employers are allowed to collect for testing. Common specimens for workplace drug testing in the District include hair, urine, blood, and saliva.

Can Employers Do Random Drug Testing in Washington DC?

Yes. Employers in Washington DC can do random drug testing as there are no laws prohibiting it. However, the selection process for the random drug testing must not be discriminatory, and employees must have been given the written drug test policy before the first test is carried out.

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

Any employee who fails a drug test in Washington DC can be subjected to a wide range of disciplinary actions, from a simple warning to termination of employment. Other common punishments include the following:

  • Mandatory drug education
  • Loss of employment benefits
  • Failure to promote the employee
  • Suspension
  • Demotion

The type of disciplinary action for any employee who fails a workplace drug test is largely left to the employer’s discretion. However, pursuant to the Cannabis Employment Protection Amendment Act of 2022, employers are prohibited from penalizing employees who test positive for THC metabolites when such employee is not impaired by marijuana at the workplace. Exceptions, however, abound for federal workers and employees whose roles are designated as safety-sensitive.

Can I Be Fired for Refusing a Drug Test in Washington DC?

Yes. Employees who refuse a drug test can be treated the same way as those who have failed a drug test and can be fired. Employees who are fired for refusing to take a drug test can contact a Washington DC licensed lawyer if they believe that there is a justifiable reason for refusing to take the test.

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

Washington DC laws protect registered medical marijuana patients from disciplinary measures if they test positive for marijuana after a workplace test. This protection, however, does not apply if the employee was impaired by marijuana at the workplace.

Can Employers Conduct Drug Tests on Applicants in Washington DC?

In Washington DC, employers are permitted to use their discretion when it comes to workplace drug testing. So, an employer can decide whether or not to request job applicants to submit to drug testing. Any applicant who refuses or fails a drug test can be denied employment. It is, however, common practice for employers to inform applicants if a drug test would form part of the interview process.

During the interview stage, a wide range of drug tests can be carried out on prospective employees. However, pursuant to DC Code 32–931, employers can not test applicants or prospective employees for marijuana until conditional offers of employment have been extended to such applicants.

Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing Allowed in Washington DC?

Yes, pre-employment drug testing is allowed in Washington DC. Laws neither regulate nor permit employers to test employees for drugs. However, pre-employment drug testing in the District can only be conducted with advance written notice to the applicant and only after a conditional offer of employment has been made.

Does Washington DC Allow Public Agencies to Submit Employees to Workplace Drug Tests?

Yes. Most public agencies in Washington DC are federal agencies and as such subject to federal laws on drug testing. Pursuant to federal laws, public agencies are required to maintain drug-free workplace policies. Any public employee who violates a drug-free workplace policy stands being subjected to formal action up to and including dismissal.

Can Employers Choose to Create Drug-Free Workplace Policies?

Washington DC drug testing laws do not prohibit or mandate employers to operate a drug-free workplace policy. Employers can decide whether or not they want a drug-free workplace policy. However, should such a policy be put in place, it should contain the following:

  • A strong policy statement emphasizing that drug usage in the workplace is prohibited
  • The list of drugs to be tested
  • List of specimen to be used for the test
  • A listing of all employee drug testing procedures
  • Category of employees subject to testing
  • Clear and consistent sanctions for violations

Employees Exempted From Washington DC Workplace Drug Testing Laws

Washington DC’s drug testing laws do not specifically exempt any list of workers from its coverage. For federal employees in the District, federal drug testing laws apply.

What are the Requirements for Drug Testing Labs in Washington DC?

No laws expressly state the kind of drug testing labs employers in Washington DC can use to test their employees. So, employers can either contract a drug testing lab to test their employees or require the test to be carried out in certified labs. However, employers in the District are advised to patronize labs certified by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for workplace drug testing.

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