Q. An employee sometimes shows up looking like he came from a party, with glazed eyes and slurred speech. Can we make him take a drug or alcohol test?
A. When considering testing an employee for drugs or alcohol, you need to have reasonable suspicion that the employee is at that moment under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Objective evidence, like the odor of alcohol on the employee’s breath,, inability to appropriately answer questions and physical signs of alcohol or drug influence can lead to reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
There are also certain safety-sensitive positions where random drug testing may be permitted.
However, California law also gives employees a right to privacy. When deciding whether a drug test by an employer was appropriate, courts balance the employee’s expectation of privacy with the employer’s reason for the testing.