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Drug Testing in Tennessee

Filed under Hiring Workers. Fact checked on May 25, 2012.

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Drug testing by employers in Tennessee is governed by these state rules.

Tennessee's drug-free workplace law applies to employers covered by the state's workers' compensation law who choose to maintain drug-free workplace programs and who include on the posted notice of policy a specific statement that the policy is being implemented pursuant to Tennessee's drug-free workplace law.

If an employer implements a drug-free workplace program in accordance with Tennessee's drug-free workplace law that includes notice, education, and procedural requirements for testing for drugs and alcohol pursuant to rules developed by the Division of Workers' Compensation, the covered employer may require the employee to submit to a test for the presence of drugs or alcohol.

If a drug or alcohol is found to be present in the employee's system at a level prescribed by statute or by rule adopted pursuant to Tennessee's drug-free workplace law, the employee may be terminated and forfeits eligibility for workers' compensation medical and indemnity benefits.

Also, an employer who establishes and maintains a drug-free workplace program under Tennessee's drug-free workplace law may qualify for workers' compensation premium discounts.

To the extent permitted by law, a covered employer who establishes a drug-free workplace is required to conduct the following types of drug tests:

  • Job applicant drug testing. A covered employer must require job applicants to submit to a drug test and may use a refusal to submit to a drug test or a positive confirmed drug test as a basis for refusing to hire an applicant. Limited testing of applicants, only if it is based on a reasonable classification basis, is permissible in accordance with Division of Workers' Compensation rule.
  • Reasonable suspicion drug testing. A covered employer must require an employee to submit to reasonable suspicion drug testing. If testing is conducted based on reasonable suspicion, the covered employer must promptly detail in writing the circumstances that formed the basis of the determination that reasonable suspicion existed to warrant the testing. A copy of this documentation must be given to the employee upon request, and the original documentation must be kept confidential by the employer, and must be retained by the employer for at least one year.
  • Routine fitness-for-duty drug testing. A covered employer must require an employee to submit to a drug test if the test is conducted as part of a routinely scheduled employee fitness-for-duty medical examination that is part of the covered employer's established policy or that is scheduled routinely for all members of an employment classification or group.
  • Follow-up drug testing. If an employee in the course of employment enters an employee assistance program for drug-related problems, or a drug rehabilitation program, the covered employer must require the employee to submit to a drug test as a follow-up to such program, unless the employee voluntarily entered the program. In those cases, the covered employer has the option not to require follow-up testing. If such testing is required, it must be conducted at least once a year for a two-year period after completion of the program. Advance notice of a follow-up testing date must not be given to the employee to be tested.
  • Post-accident testing. After an accident that results in an injury, a covered employer may require the employee to submit to a drug test in accordance with Tennessee's drug-free workplace law.

Tennessee's drug-free workplace law does not preclude an employer from conducting any lawful testing of employees for drugs.

A covered employer may not discharge, discipline, refuse to hire, discriminate against, or request or require rehabilitation of an employee or job applicant on the sole basis of a positive test result that has not been verified by a confirmation test and by a medical review officer.

Likewise, a covered employer may not discharge, discipline, or discriminate against an employee solely upon the employee's voluntarily seeking treatment for a drug-related problem, while under the employ of the covered employer, if the employee has not previously tested positive for drug use, entered an employee assistance program for drug-related problems, or entered a drug rehabilitation program .

An employee or job applicant whose drug test result is confirmed as positive is not, by virtue of the result alone, deemed to have a "handicap" or "disability" as defined under federal, state, or local handicap and disability discrimination laws.

A covered employer who discharges or disciplines an employee or refuses to hire a job applicant in compliance with Tennessee's drug-free workplace law is considered to have done so for cause.

Nothing in Tennessee's drug-free workplace law may be construed to prevent a covered employer from establishing reasonable work rules related to employee possession, use, sale, or solicitation of drugs, and taking action based upon a violation of any of those rules.

If an employee or job applicant refuses to submit to a drug test, the covered employer is not barred from discharging or disciplining the employee or from refusing to hire the job applicant.

Employers of employees holding a commercial driver's license who are required to conduct drug and alcohol testing under federal safety regulations must report to the Department of Public Safety a valid positive result on a alcohol or drug test, a refusal to provide a specimen for an alcohol or drug test, or an adulterated, diluted, or substituted specimen.

Drug Testing Requirements

Specimen collection and testing for drugs under Tennessee's drug-free workplace law must be performed in accordance with the procedures provided for by the U.S. Department of Transportation rules for workplace drug and alcohol testing.

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