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Drug Testing of Employees and Applicants: Ethical or Unethical?

Autor:   •  February 28, 2011  •  Essay  •  817 Words (4 Pages)  •  2,425 Views

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Drug Testing of Employees and Applicants: Ethical or Unethical?

The drug testing of employees and applicants has long been a controversial topic. One of the issues that make drug testing on employees becomes problematic is the difficulty of balancing the employees' privacy rights and the companies' issues relating to drug abuse in the work place. So the remaining question is whether drug testing on employees and applicants is ethical or not? The answers might be dissimilar from different points of view.

From a social viewpoint, drug testing does not seem to be ethical because it is usually considered an invasion of privacy. Health issue is one of the factors belonging to private life. A person should have the right to his/her personal issues. Privacy here does not simply mean that a person must be able to perform a certain activity, or provide a service, but he/she must also be able to do it in an acceptable manner (Cranford, 1998). Therefore, either routine or random drug testing without the employees' consent is claimed to clearly violate the employees' right to privacy.

Regarding the legal aspect, drug testing can be considered as a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment; so, it can be regarded as a violation of the law. However, an employee's drug-testing program can be accepted if it meets "the reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment." The reasonableness, however, relies on all the facts and circumstances of the particular situation. In the Daryel Garrison v. Department of Justice case , the plaintiff claims that the "reasonable suspicion standard for drug testing subjected him to an unreasonable search and denied him due process". However, in this case, the evidence was sufficient enough to create a reasonable suspicion in the employer's mind that the plaintiff had used marijuana. The court then affirmed that the official agency who ordered the testing had "reasonable suspicion" that employee used drugs. So in this case, the drug-testing meets the reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, it is not a violation of the law. In contrast, in the case Lovvorn v. Chattanooga , there was no evidence of a significant department-wide drug problem or individualized suspicion. The court then concluded that defendant city's drug testing program of plaintiff firefighters violated the firefighters' Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.

From a business standpoint, drug testing relates to companies' safety issues that cannot be ignored. According to the American College of Occupational


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