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Drug Testing in Washington

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

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

Washington's drug-free workplace law does not require employers to implement drug-free workplace programs or drug testing programs. Rather, it provides that employers, other than self-insured employers, implementing a drug-free workplace program will qualify for a workers' compensation premium discount under the state's workers' compensation law.

A drug-free workplace program must meet certain confidentiality standards, and must contain all of the following elements:

  • a written policy statement in compliance with the law;
  • substance abuse testing;
  • an employee assistance program;
  • employee education; and
  • supervisor training.

Employers may conduct random tests, or test on a reasonable-suspicion basis.

An employer with a drug-free workplace program must investigate each workplace injury that results in a worker needing off-site medical attention and require the employee to submit to drug and alcohol tests if the employer reasonably believes the employee has caused or contributed to the injury.

An employer with a drug-free workplace program must require job applicants to submit to a drug test after extending an offer of employment. The employer may use a refusal to submit to a drug test or a verified positive test as a basis for not hiring the job applicant.

Washington's drug-free workplace law does not prevent an employer from establishing reasonable work rules related to employee possession, use, sale, or solicitation of drugs, including convictions for drug-related offenses, and taking action based upon a violation of any of those rules.

Drug Testing Requirements

Within five working days after receipt of a verified positive test result from the laboratory, an employer must inform an employee or job applicant in writing of the positive test result, the consequences of the result, and the options available to the employee or job applicant.

A first-time verified positive test result may not be used as a basis to terminate an employee's employment, but a second verified positive drug or alcohol test result may be the basis for termination. Also, any violation of employer rules pertaining to alcohol and drugs after the first verified positive drug or alcohol test may result in termination.

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