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California Employment Discrimination: Drugs & Alcohol

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2016 | Articles, Employment Litigation


There are many cases wherein an individual may feel as though he or she is being treated poorly by their employer. This is usually the case with issues involving discrimination or bullying. However, it can also be apparent in circumstances where an individual is alienated by their employer through drug and alcohol testing or other behavior indicating suspicion towards an employee.

Although California law allows for drug testing, it’s critical to note that it is only allowed in a very limited set of strictly defined circumstances.

Circumstances of Testing

There are a number of circumstances in which drug or alcohol testing may be deemed as reasonable. These situations include:

  • California law allows employers to require a drug or alcohol test as a condition of employment either after a job offer is proposed, or immediately after a person is employed. This test can be conducted without any need for prior suspicion, and simply acts as an underlying check before an employee is placed on the payroll.
  • Reasonable suspicion testing allows employers to require drug or alcohol testing based on the observance of specific facts or rational inferences that have been drawn from those facts that might indicate alcohol or drug abuse by an employee. For instance, it’s worth noting that the courts have upheld testing of employees following serious accidents.

Importantly, an employer in California will not be permitted to subject his or her employees to random drug or alcohol testing except under very narrow circumstances.

Discrimination in Employment

While it may be reasonable for a person in California, or company to refuse employment to a person who fails to pass a mandatory drug test at the beginning of their employment or before their hire date, it is not reasonable for a person to be rejected from the possibility of employment based on a previous problem that they had with drugs or alcohol.

The Federal Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act might not protect individuals who are currently in possession of and using drugs, but they do protect people who are designated as former abusers of illegal drugs or alcohol, who have now been successfully rehabilitated through a program.

In other words, if a person is refused an interview, or a chance to advance in their career simply on the basis that they used to have a drug or alcohol problem that they have now overcome, chances are that the person in question might have an employment litigation and discrimination case to bring before the court.

Cases of Employment Law

Fundamentally, it can be quite difficult to win a case of employment law, as it is difficult to prove that a company or party chose not to hire an individual based on their background with drugs or alcohol alone. Because of this, in order to file a case of discrimination, it’s crucial to have the resources and proof available to back up your claim.

Speaking to a legal professional could help you to determine whether you have grounds for an employment discrimination case. To learn more, contact Makarem & Associates either via phone at 310.312.0299, or by email at: [email protected].