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2019 Changes to Florida Drug Testing Laws

If you are an employee in Florida and your employer requires you to participate in regular drug testing, it is helpful to know your legal rights. On a federal level, certain limitations exist regarding drug testing. For example, the federal government requires drug testing for specific industries, including transportation, aviation, the Department of Defense, and more. For the most part, however, drug testing depends on state and local laws that continuously evolve.

Florida participates in a drug-free workplace program, like many other states. Participation in such a program provides certain benefits, such as discounts on workers’ compensation premiums. On the other hand, employers must abide by state rules to qualify for the discount. Procedures exist to protect employee rights as well as those of applicants. The individual rules may vary by company, but all must meet minimum qualifications.

Rules for Florida Drug Testing

Rules apply to both applicants and employees. Under Florida law, for example, any employer who participates in the drug-free workplace program must test their prospective employee after a conditional offer of employment. If an employer participates in the program, it must outline their intention to drug test in the job listing or advertisement.

Employers who wish to participate in a drug-free workplace program must follow certain procedures regarding employees.

  • Employers must test upon reasonable suspicion of illicit drug use activity. Reasonable suspicion may include observation, a report of drug use, or any sudden changes in behavior.
  • Employers must test after an employee returns to work from any absence as part of a fitness for duty examination.
  • An employer must test after an employee returns to work after completing rehabilitation for a positive drug test. If the employee left for rehabilitation voluntarily, then an employer is not required to perform drug testing.

Employment Screening and Medical Marijuana

Some employees may wonder how their use of medical marijuana may affect the condition of their employment. Florida law permits the use of medical marijuana, though its use is some of the most strictly regulated in the nation. While many states now allow the recreational cultivation and use of marijuana, it is still illegal under federal law and within the state of Florida.

While Florida residents may have a legal, medical marijuana card, employers are still free to prohibit its use as a condition of employment. As a result, anyone who tests positive for marijuana use, even if that use is medical, could face termination of employment in line with company policy or that of a drug-free workplace.

On the other hand, many employers recognize that the talent shortage is leading to real struggles when it comes to finding quality employees. As a result, many are taking a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to testing for marijuana. Some employers are leaving marijuana out of their testing panels altogether.

Terminating employment on the basis of a positive marijuana test is not discrimination under Florida rule, as it remains illegal under federal law. However, as more states legalize its use for medical and recreational purposes, the drug screening rules pertaining to a drug-free workplace may change.

Employees in the state of Florida have few rights when it comes to drug testing, though they must receive notice of the intent to drug test as a condition of employment. Employers can participate in random drug screening under Florida law, but workers should know of their intent to do so. The state requires that employers observe several rules as a condition of participation in a drug-free workplace in exchange for benefits like reductions in workers’ compensation premiums.

Consult with an Attorney

If you have questions about your employee rights and medical marijuana use, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Tampa employment lawyer.

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