Iowa Supreme Court Takes on Employer Drug Testing Practices

CANNANNEW REPORT

By Jennifer L. Mora on July 20, 2021 POSTED IN DRUG TESTING Seyfarth Synopsis: On June 25, 2021, concluding that Iowa’s comprehensive drug testing statute requires employers to “substantially” comply with its mandates, the Iowa Supreme Court issued two separate decisions finding that employers violated the statute after terminating employees in response to failed drug tests. The decisions serve as important reminders to employers to ensure their drug testing policies and practices can withstand scrutiny in any jurisdiction. Iowa’s drug testing statute Iowa’s drug and alcohol testing statute is considered one of the more onerous and difficult to navigate in the nation (along with Maine and Minnesota). It includes numerous requirements that employers must follow to lawfully conduct pre-employment and employment drug and alcohol tests, including (but not limited to): A requirement that employers implement a written policy that is distributed to employees (including the parents of any employees who are minors) and made available to job applicants and employees for review. A requirement that employers establish an awareness program to inform employees of the dangers of drugs and alcohol in the workplace. If the employer has at least 50 employees in Iowa, and if an employee with a confirmed positive alcohol test (1) has been working for at least 12 of the preceding 18 months, (2) agrees to rehabilitation and (3) has not previously violated the employer’s substance abuse policy, the employee must be given an opportunity to participate in rehabilitation in lieu of termination or other disciplinary action. A requirement that supervisory personnel involved with drug or alcohol testing submit to two hours of initial training and, on an annual basis thereafter, a minimum of one hour of additional training. The training must address a number of topics, including information on how to recognize employee alcohol and drug abuse, documentation of such abuse,…

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