Drug testing and alcohol testing in Connecticut
National Drug Screening can offer drug testing at our drug testing facilities in all areas of Connecticut including Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, Bridgeport, and Norwalk. Immediate appointments are available with easy fast service from one of our operators standing by. All tests include MRO services and both on-site collection and random selections are available. We accept major credit cards and results can be delivered by e-mail or online 24/7 in a secure client area. All testing types are available – oral fluid, urinalysis, hair testing, saliva testing, alcohol testing, and post-testing (point of collection testing).
Connecticut law on drug testing of prospective employees
Under Connecticut law, no employer may require a prospective employee to submit to a urinalysis drug test as part of the application procedure unless the following conditions are met:
- the applicant is informed in writing at the time of application of the employer’s intent to conduct such a drug test;
- the test is conducted in accordance with the statutory procedures, which mandate the methodology for such tests; and
- the applicant is given a copy of any positive drug test result.
The statute further provides that the results of any such test must be kept confidential and not disclosed by the employer or its employees to any person other than any such employee to whom such disclosure is necessary. Drug test results should be treated the same as employee medical records, kept separately from personnel records.
It is a good idea to have the applicant sign a consent form for the drug testing which also authorizes the laboratory to release the results to the employer.
Note that individuals who were previously employed by the employer and who are applying for re-employment within twelve months of their termination are treated like current employees for purposes of drug testing, rather than as prospective employees. They cannot be tested unless the requirement of reasonable suspicion is met, or unless they are covered by another law that requires testing.
Drug testing of current employees — reasonable suspicion
Connecticut law prohibits drug testing of current employees unless the employer has “reasonable suspicion” that the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol which adversely affects or could adversely affect such employee’s job performance.
The law expressly states that the Department of Labor shall adopt regulations to specific circumstances that shall be presumed to give rise to reasonable suspicion. Although regulations have been drafted, they have not yet been finalized.
Drug testing of current employees – random tests
An employer generally may not require employees to submit to a drug test on a random basis unless one of the following exceptions applies:
- such test is authorized under federal law (discussed below);
- the employee serves in an occupation that has been designated as high-risk or safety-sensitive; or
- the test is conducted as part of an employee assistance program sponsored or authorized by the employer in which the employee voluntarily participates.
High-risk or safety-sensitive occupations: high-risk or safety-sensitive occupations are defined by regulation as those that:
(1) inherently involve a significant life-threatening danger to the employee, fellow employees, or the general public;
(2) require the use of judgment or a high degree of care or caution; and
(3) are such that the employer could not evaluate the employee’s performance by personal observation.
Employees and employers may make written requests to the commissioner of labor that an occupation be designated (or not designated) as high-risk or safety-sensitive. Employers who intend to institute drug testing of current employees and who are not acting under reasonable suspicion or federal mandate must first submit a request to the commissioner for certification that the occupation is high-risk or safety-sensitive. The commissioner maintains a list of occupations designated as high-risk or safety-sensitive; however, this list is only a guideline for future determinations.
An employer cannot rely on the fact that an occupation is on the list to justify implementing a random testing program. Rather, each employer who intends to undertake random drug testing must inform the commissioner of its intention so that the commissioner can make a separate certification for that employer.
As noted, Connecticut law addresses only urinalysis testing, which may not be particularly effective for detecting alcohol abuse or intoxication. While an employer is not precluded under Connecticut law from using other types of tests (such as a breathalyzer test) to detect alcohol intoxication, there is no “safe harbor” or guidance on the methodology provided by Connecticut state law on drug testing. However, the federal DOT regulations for regulated industries (airlines, railroads, mass transit, trucking, etc.) require alcohol testing in addition to testing for certain classes of illegal drugs.
Under Connecticut’s drug testing law, any employer or laboratory that violates any provision of the law shall be liable to the affected person for special and general damages, together with attorneys’ fees and costs. Furthermore, a court can order injunctive relief.
Thus far, the Connecticut courts have declined to find a common-law cause of action for wrongful discharge, noting that the statutory remedy is available. However, an employer could be subject to other common law claims such as defamation, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy.
An employer who applies a drug testing program on a discriminatory basis (such as requiring only members of certain protected classes to submit to tests) could face liability under state and federal anti-discrimination laws, such as the Connecticut fair employment practices act and Title VII of the civil rights act. In addition, the Americans with disabilities act provides protections for former drug users who have been successfully rehabilitated and are no longer illegally using drugs, as well as those who are erroneously regarded as engaging in illegal drug use.
Also, an employer subject to the drug-free workplace act can face penalties for failure to comply with the act. Such penalties can include grant suspension, termination, or debarment of the contractor or grantee.
Connecticut – intoxication defense
Connecticut is a drug testing friendly state though its law places restrictions on random testing. The medical marijuana law states that it does not apply to “ingestion of marijuana… in the workplace.” the general consensus in the courts and the legal commentaries is that medical marijuana laws do not require employers to modify their employment practices, drug-free workplace policies, drug testing policies, or accommodation policies.
Random testing is limited to positions designated by the state, for an updated list of approved positions go to: https://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/wgwkstnd/laws-regs/statute31-51t-thru-31-51aa.htm. The site states, “This list may serve only as a guide for the commissioner in future investigations and determinations made pursuant to the regulations. employers may institute random urinalysis drug testing only after their individual request has received written approval from the commissioner.”
Connecticut Workers Compensation Act Favorable to the Intoxication Defense
(c) in the case of accidental injury, a disability, or death due to the use of alcohol or narcotic drugs shall not be construed to be compensable injury;
Unfortunately, there is a challenge in Connecticut as post-accident drug/alcohol testing falls under reasonable suspicion testing. Connecticut law prohibits drug testing of current employees unless the employer has “reasonable suspicion” that the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol which adversely affects or could adversely affect such employee’s job performance.
Under Connecticut Department of Labor workplace laws – sec. 31-51x. drug testing: reasonable suspicion required. (a) no employer may require an employee to submit to a urinalysis drug test unless the employer has reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol which adversely affects or could adversely affect such employee’s job performance. The labor commissioner shall adopt regulations in accordance with Chapter 54 to specific circumstances that shall be presumed to give rise to an employer having such a reasonable suspicion, provided nothing in such regulations shall preclude an employer from citing other circumstances as giving rise to such a reasonable suspicion.
The regulations and specific circumstances mentioned in sec. 31-51x have not been finalized. It could be argued that an accident would be sufficient circumstances to give rise to a reasonable suspicion situation and thus a post-accident drug and alcohol test needs to be performed.
Intoxication Defense Best Practices
A post-accident drug test is the most important drug test an employer will require, as this test can lead to huge financial savings!
After an injury, many employers require their employees to have a drug screen performed immediately after medical treatment. This testing is performed to allow the employer and insurance carrier to dispute the compensability of the injured worker’s claim. Typically, to defeat a workers’ compensation claim an employer must show two things: first, that the employee was intoxicated at the time of the injury, and second that the intoxication caused or contributed to that injury.
In virtually every state (except Arizona) you can challenge a workers’ compensation claim if there is evidence that the employee was intoxicated at the time of the accident and if that intoxication “contributed” to the cause of the accident. Some states provide a presumption of both intoxication and cause thereby denying a workers’ compensation benefit to anyone testing positive. Other states provide a presumption of intoxication leaving cause to be proved, and some states provide a specific automatic deduction if there is a positive drug or alcohol test. One should be careful to follow state law since some states specifically define post-accident testing and others limit testing to only situations where there is reasonable suspicion.
One thing is for sure, defeating a workers’ compensation claim is not automatic, and many times a judge and/or jury may be involved.
- Who administered the testing?
- If it was the employer, did they know how to properly administer the test?
- How can they establish that it was not contaminated?
- If it was for alcohol, was the machine calibrated properly?
- Have company policies, DOT regulations, and state laws been followed?
It is not unusual that the employer does not have the proper expertise to properly administer testing after an accident.
How you handle post-accident testing and workers’ compensation claims is paramount to establishing the intoxication defense and preventing claimants from rebutting the statutory presumptions. The following procedures can help you protect your ability to use the intoxication defense.
- Have a written and promulgated drug-testing policy.
The policy should contain a statement that all employees are subject to drug testing and that a refusal to take a drug screen will result in a presumption that the test would have been positive. Furthermore, the drug policy should be signed by the employee and be universally enforced. If the policy is not enforced, the claimant can argue that no policy exists.
- Training & education
Your drug-free workplace program must have a training and education component. Employees and supervisors must know the policy, the consequences of violating the policy, and the harmful effects of drugs/alcohol in the workplace. Supervisors must be able to make decisions for reasonable suspicion testing and must know the company policy inside and out.
- Always test an employee immediately following the accident.
Test after even minor accidents, a court can deny the intoxication presumption if the test occurs too late after the accident.
- Take a written statement from an injured employee after an accident.
The statement should ask specifically whether the employee had consumed any alcohol within 24 hours of the accident or any non-prescribed controlled substances, including cocaine or marijuana, within 30 days of the accident. Have the employee sign the statement.
- Take written statements of co-workers.
If you suspect drug use by the injured employee, ask the co-employees whether they noticed any unusual behavior. Never discuss the results of any drug tests with the injured worker’s co-employees.
- Have the drug tests collected and performed by a reputable vendor.
A medical drug test performed for treating a patient is different from an employment drug test. The employment drug test procedure must follow company policy, federal and state law, and specifically quantifies the drug and alcohol levels. Furthermore, the testing entity should follow the federal guidelines for the collection and testing procedures.
- Approve emergency care for an injured employee, despite positive drug results.
The injured employee will be entitled to reasonable emergency medical care until he is stabilized or discharged.
- Do not encourage the use of alcohol.
An exception to the intoxication defense occurs when employers provide the intoxicating beverage and encourage its use or if the intoxication occurs in pursuit of the employer’s interest. Have a written policy against using alcohol, even in work-related activities.
Employers should note that even if the injured employee is found or presumed to be intoxicated, they are responsible for any reasonable emergency medical care until the employee is stabilized or discharged. Consultant Joe Reilly recommends three main things needed to successfully prove intoxication: a compliant workplace drug-testing program, a properly administered drug test, and a positive test result. Prepare now for lower workers’ comp costs and potential denial of claims achieving a return on investment for your drug-free workplace program.
No one would tell you that every positive drug or alcohol test will result in a denial of a claim, but, that’s where you start. If you’re not doing post-accident testing or not doing it properly you may lose the opportunity to challenge an otherwise defensible claim. You have to conduct post-accident/injury drug/alcohol tests in order to even consider the intoxication defense.
Drug testing centers are open daily and provide drug and alcohol testing for individuals.
Drug testing is available for: court ordered programs, probation, legal cases, divorce, child custody, and required testing for colleges and universities.
All major laboratories are utilized including Labcorp, Quest Diagnostics, Alere Toxicology, Clinical Reference Labs (CRL), and Medtox. All laboratory patient service centers and collection sites are available for immediate testing.
Your drug test can be scheduled today with one easy phone call. Drug testing locations are available and convenient to where you live and work. An easy process – it is confidential and secure.
Negative drug test results are available the next business day after specimen collection. Your results are reported back to you with fast turnaround by e-mail, fax, or U.S. mail.
If you need to order a drug test today, call National Drug Screening or ORDER NOW.
For drug testing in Connecticut for employers call now: 866-843-4545