Georgia Drug Testing Laws 2024

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Georgia Drug Testing Laws 2024

The scope of workplace drug testing in Georgia is set by several statutes such as Georgia Codes Sections 45-23-1, 45-20-110, and 34-9-410. Although private employers are not mandated by law to test employees for drugs, they must do so to qualify for discounts on workers’ compensation insurance premiums. A drug-free workplace program that complies with the provisions of the state’s drug-free workplace law is needed to qualify for such benefits. Counties and cities in Georgia generally follow the drug testing laws set in the State Code.

Georgia’s drug testing laws allow random testing and any other lawful workplace drug testing. Employers are not mandated to accommodate the use of medical marijuana by employees. They may establish and implement zero-tolerance policies for on and off-duty use of drugs and punish violators accordingly.

What Kinds of Drug Tests Can Employers Conduct in Georgia?

Employers in Georgia may test employees and new hires for amphetamines, cannabinoids, cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), methadone, methaqualone, opiates, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, propoxyphene, or any metabolite of these substances. They are allowed to conduct the following types of tests in the workplace:

  • Drug tests for job applicants after extending job offers
  • Reasonable suspicion tests
  • Drug tests as part of an employee's routine fitness-for-duty examinations
  • Follow-up tests after an employee completes a mandated drug rehabilitation program
  • Post-accident drug test, if an employee caused or contributed to a work-related accident that resulted in an injury or loss of work time

One of the most popular drug tests in Georgia is urinalysis for THC metabolites of marijuana. However, employers can collect other samples for workplace drug testing, including tissue, blood, hair, saliva, breath, or any bodily product that is capable of showing the presence of marijuana or its metabolites.

Can Employers Do Random Drug Testing in Georgia?

Yes, employers in Georgia are allowed to randomly test employees, especially if there is reasonable suspicion of substance abuse in the workplace. Under O.C.G.A. § 34-9-415(c), nothing prohibits employers from conducting random testing or any other form of lawful testing. According to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-414, one time before the drug tests, all employees or job applicants must be notified of the tests by the employer. Employers who do not have a substance abuse testing program in place must give 60 days’ notice of the tests. If a substance abuse testing program exists, the employer does not have to give 60 days’ notice.

What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test in Georgia for a Job?

Any employee who fails a workplace drug test in Georgia may be fired from the position and could lose employment benefits. If the employee is not outright fired, they may be required to attend a rehabilitation program with regular drug testing after completing the program. A job applicant who tests positive could also have their job offer withdrawn. In some cases, the job candidate may be barred from applying for certain government jobs for up to two years.

There are, however, some exceptions. For example, an employee may not be fired for testing positive for a drug in Georgia if they have a valid prescription, as is the case for medical marijuana. An employer who fires a person for failing a registered cannabis patient could be violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. An employer’s workplace policies may also prevent them from firing you for failing a test. Employees are advised to check their contracts and employee handbooks for any information about drug testing and its penalties. Some employers use penalties such as suspensions and mandatory rehabilitation or employee assistance program attendance as alternatives to termination. Employers are expected to provide their employees with written copies of their drug-free workplace policies.

Can I Be Fired for Refusing a Drug Test in Georgia?

Yes, employers in Georgia can fire employees who refuse to consent to drug testing when the employer has reasonable grounds. Employees who are fired for refusing a drug test, in this case, are considered to be at fault and discharged for misconduct.

Can You Get Fired for Failing a Drug Test with a Medical Card in Georgia?

Yes, but this will largely depend on the employer’s workplace drug policy. Employees or prospective employees in Georgia with valid medical marijuana prescriptions may not be penalized for failing a drug test for cannabis. Unless the employer has a zero-tolerance drug-free workplace policy, firing such a worker violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Can Employers Conduct Drug Tests on Applicants in Georgia?

Job applicants in Georgia are not required to undergo drug testing until they have been given conditional offers of employment. After extending a job offer, an employer may require a job candidate to undergo drug testing at the employer’s worksite using on-site testing kits. Any necessary follow-up tests may be performed at a laboratory.

Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing Allowed in Georgia?

Georgia pre-employment testing laws allow employers to test prospective employees for drugs after offering them a job but before they start work. Pre-employment testing is mandatory for state employees and high-risk positions but not mandatory for private-sector employers.

A job applicant who fails a post-offer drug test in Georgia may contest or explain the result to the employer within 5 working days of receiving written notification of a positive test result. Employers have the right to rescind job offers to applicants who fail their post-offer drug tests or refuse drug testing. Employers must include notice of the possibility of drug testing in any vacancy announcements, especially for positions requiring pre-employment drug testing.

Does Georgia Allow Public Agencies to Submit Employees to Workplace Drug Tests?

Yes. Georgia is committed to maintaining workplaces free of alcohol and drug abuse. This means government employees are not protected and can be required to undergo drug testing to maintain a drug-free workplace at all times.

Can Employers Choose to Create Drug-Free Workplace Policies?

Yes, Georgia employers are permitted by law to implement drug-free workplace policies. Georgia has a drug-free workplace law that allows employers to put such policies in place, in line with O.C.G.A. §34-9-410 to §34-9-421. Employers who choose to implement drug-free workplace policies must meet certain standards. Requirements to implement a drug-free workplace policy in the state include the following:

  • A written drug-free workplace policy statement
  • Employee education programs
  • Training for supervisory staff on substance abuse
  • Resources for Employee Assistance Providers
  • Provisions for drug testing of employees

Employees Exempted From Georgia Workplace Drug Testing Laws

No employee is exempt by law from drug testing laws in Georgia. Testing of federal and state employees, drivers, and other high-risk jobs, such as law enforcement officers, is authorized under several provisions in the state’s drug testing laws.

What are the Requirements for Drug Testing Labs in Georgia?

Employers in Georgia must contract drug testing to only laboratories certified by the College of American Pathologists (CAP), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Under O.C.G.A. § 34-9-415 (e), no laboratory is allowed to collect or analyze initial or confirmation specimens unless they adhere to the following:

  • The lab is duly certified by a relevant agency
  • The laboratory has written procedures to ensure the chain of custody
  • The lab follows proper quality control procedures, including written procedures to ensure chain of custody, proper instrument calibration for accuracy, security checks to prevent adulteration of samples, and any other actions to ensure reliable and accurate results

The Georgia Department of Health and Human Services is tasked with certifying drug testing laboratories in the state. They also play a role in informing employers of laboratories that meet current standards and guidelines.

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