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Are drug test Results Confidential?

Drug testing is a means employers take to determine employees using drugs. A drug test identifies recent alcohol use, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs. Drug tests don’t test whether someone’s behavior is due to drugs.  Drug testing is most effective when it deals with a written policy. Employees must agree to drug tests before it happens though it’s results confidential according to policy.

People who test positive for drugs enroll in an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This program helps employees with an alcohol or drug problem. But are drug tests results confidential? In this article, we will focus on the confidentiality of drug tests.

Can drug tests be confidential?

Drug test results should always be confidential. Also, all medical information about your employees should be confidential. To maintain confidentiality, collect samples privately. Also discuss test results and actions with the employee in private.

Furthermore, an employer cannot tell others the result of your drug test. However, some employers may be curious and tell the results. In some states, employers reveal drug test results for unemployment compensation determination. It also helps with workers’ compensation and disability determinations.

What the law says about drug test results

Some employers abide by federal law and agency policy to reveal drug test results.  The Department of Transportation does not support confidential drug test results. Employers of truck drivers with negative drug tests must disclose the result to the employee’s next employer. However, this is only possible if the employee has signed a specific written release. This ensures that the employee respects the return-to-duty process and a rehabilitation program.

What to do if your employer reveals your drug results?

You can sue your employer for revealing your drug test results. There isn’t a federal law preventing employers from revealing employees’ drug test results. However, there are several instances where an employee can sue their employer. This includes.

  • Invasion of Privacy: An employee can use the invasion of privacy when their employer shares confidential information. The information can be highly offensive to a reasonable person and therefore needs to be confidential. Employers can face charges for revealing confidential information.
  • Defamation: Furthermore, the employer can face defamation. This occurs when the employer lies about your drug results to other employees.

Who is allowed access to the results of a drug test?

Are drug test results confidential? Your drug test results are like any personal health information. Therefore, there are boundaries on how such information is shared with others.

As a result, employees must sign a release that prevents their employer from releasing the results. One way to understand the release of health information is by contacting DHHS.  This agency monitors the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA dictates how your health information may be released. 

Bottom line: best rule of rhumb for employers

Employers should keep drug test results of potential, current, or former employees confidential. Employers should create a separate file for drug tests different from the employee’s general employment file. The employer should also avoid revealing drug test results to outsiders. Confidential drug test results ensure a safe working environment.