Are Pre-employment Drug Tests A Violation Of Privacy?

In the corporate world there has long existed a divide between the employers and employees over the issue of drug testing both before and after hiring. Many feel that asking a perspective employee to participate in a drug test is a blatant invasion of privacy; yet employers have always maintained these tests are justified, but are they? Are pre-employment drug tests a violation of privacy?

Corporations have traditionally seen drugs tests as necessary to maintain optimal productivity and as the ideal method to “weed” out the “underachievers”. However this logic is sometimes flawed as many drug users are not unproductive, underachieving, losers but in fact hardworking and responsible people. When hired employees have very few rights in the business world being that their time, energy, and personal talents all belong to the corporations that employ them. It seems that the only thing employees have control over is what goes into their bodies, which is perhaps why studies have shown that employees more often view drug abuse as a personal problem (not an issue of the corporation) and the tests for them as an invasion of their privacy. While employees that are already employed may have reason to feel invaded recent studies have shown the majority of people favor drug testing pre-employment. Since the testing is done at a time when the employer has little to no idea what he productivity of the given person is, drug use is perhaps the only thing that can identify someone as a “bad” applicant. Being a productive hired drug-using employee is one thing, but being unemployed is another. The fact that a person is both unemployed and a drug user casts serious doubt upon the work ethic of that particular person.

However issues have arisen over the applicants that are so called “randomly” drug tested. Many studies have shown that more often than not those chosen to be tested are done so not randomly, but handpicked based on racial and stereotypical views. In addition employee rights advocates have cited the large racial and hieratical disparity in the amount and type of people that are tested. Research has shown that African Americans and other minorities applying for lower level jobs are far more likely to be “randomly selected” than whites applying for upper level jobs that are often rarely selected. This hypocrisy is one of the main reasons pre-employment drug testing remains so controversial and considered by many as both unethical and an invasion of privacy.

Regardless of charges of racism and discrimination surrounding it, pre-employment drug testing is here to stay. Although many people who use recreational drugs may be hard working and talented individuals, the negative connotation of the drug user will forever deter an employer from hiring them.

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