11/30/05 Word Count: 1491 Pre-Employment Testing in America Pre-employment testing has become very popular throughout many countries, especially the United States with numerous companies and even a lot of the Fortune 500 companies use drug testing (employmentdrugtesting.com). There are many different types of testing, such as drug and alcohol testing, personality testing, along with a few tests for the ability to perform the task at hand (employmentdrugtesting.com). There are various companies that provide the testing materials to perform these different kinds of tests. Most of these tests, however, do not have much of anything to do with the job itself, but deal with whether or not the applicant can be trusted. There are numerous benefits of pre-employment testing, despite its invasiveness. They scan for drug and alcohol problems, which prevents problems such as addicted employees that could endanger the consumers. Also, the companies are held liable for their employees’ actions due to strict liability and vicarious liability, so the testing allows companies to protect themselves from lawsuits before anything even happens. In the long run, pre-employment testing prevents major problems from occurring in the workplace. It can be argued that pre-employment tests violate the Fourth Amendment to the Bill of Rights, which is the right to the applicants’ privacy. However, various laws and regulations exist to provide some protection to the applicants. Employers are required to give employees a written statement of the testing policy. Also, employers must execute a test to confirm a positive result and must allow employees or applicants that tested positive to be re-tested at their own expense (alliedacademies.org). Several companies have been created in order to regulate these tests. The employers taking advantage of the testing must possess the ability to prove that the tests truly enhance job performance. Some of the different versions of testing can violate the boundaries set between work and private life. Although there are no laws against employers misusing the results, a confidentiality law plays a role in the test usage. Employers cannot send out employee drug test results without specific written consent of the employee (Congress). The assorted tests search for drugs and alcohol, personality flaws, as well as the integrity of the future employees. There exists various ways of conducting searches for drugs and alcohol, including urine tests, examinations of hair follicles, and also the use of oral fluids (infolinkscreening.com). These tests prove useful not only before employment, but also randomly throughout the workers’ careers. When testing for honesty and personality flaws, such as anger issues or lack of better judgment, the test or interviewer prompts the applicants to answer questions usually with the use of a computer or via the telephone. These questions include things such as whether or not the applicant would ever raise a fist to a fellow employee, or if they have ever stolen from an employer (Ehrenreich 126). Some of the answers may appear obvious as to what the employers are looking for, but not everyone picks up on the correct response. Given that the answers tend to be obvious, these tests prove to not always be reliable, since it seems easy for the applicant to lie. Pre-employment testing does not always serve as the best option for some companies; therefore, various alternatives exist. Instead of drug testing and honesty tests, companies possess the ability to perform thorough background checks to verify that the applicant has a clean reputation. Another method of searching through an applicant’s past is by executing reference checks to confirm the reliability and faithfulness of the applicant. Also, polygraph tests are available in order to test for a person’s honest opinion about various mishaps that possibly will occur on the job, such as stealing (Miner). Reference checks seem to be the most cost efficient of these various alternatives, considering it really only consists of picking up the telephone to call previous employers, and most every job application put out by employers consists of a list of previous employers’ telephone numbers. This will either prove or disprove that the applicant is a responsible and hard-working employee. Not only can employers use pre-employment testing, but they can also execute random drug and alcohol tests on their current employees if there seems to be an abuse problem. Many employers offer programs to help with addicted employees, such as Working Partners for an Alcohol and Drug-Free Workplace Program. Most employers attempt to maintain an open mind when it comes to assisting workers with their problems. Employees tend to be more faithful to their employer after receiving help because they appreciate the loyalty and assistance (monster.com). However, if the employees work for anything other than a certified drug-free workplace they run the risk of facing severe consequences, such as losing their job. Employee assistance programs are common with many companies and exist specifically for employees with problems enabling them from working up to their full potential, such as mental issues or drug and alcohol addictions. The U.S. Department of Labor of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration began the Working Partners for an Alcohol and Drug-Free Workplace Program. It serves its purpose by aiding specifically addicted employees. This program helps with worker safety and health, especially within workplaces dealing with operating heavy machinery. OSHA, along with Working Partners, raises awareness of the effect of drugs and alcohol in the workplace and offers help with establishing drug-free programs. These organizations tend to focus mainly on small businesses because those industries possess a stronger ability of helping each individual worker. Working Partners is just one of the many organizations specializing in this area. Although there are countless programs offering help to employees with drug and alcohol troubles, nothing requires companies to provide rehabilitation services for their workers. However, the corporations are required to keep in mind the different accommodations for addicted employees seeking rehabilitation. An example of this could be an adjusted work schedule, made to fit into the worker’s rehabilitation schedule. Also, an employer may need to grant leave for treatment as well (users.moscow.com). Another issue that pre-employment testing can reduce or even eliminate is lawsuits filed against the corporation. Liability for employees’ actions always falls on the employer. Employers take full responsibility for the actions of their employees even at employee parties where alcohol is being served. If one of the workers drives away from a company party and is the cause of an automobile accident, the employer is held accountable. This example does not even occur in the workplace, yet the employer receives the blame; therefore, one easily concludes that if something of that matter were to occur in the workplace, the company would not only be liable, but in much greater trouble as well. Not only is it risky for employers to have intoxicated workers in the workplace, but for the other employees as well. In a poll taken of employees on whether or not they felt that drug abuse significantly affects the safety of the workplace; 42 percent answered “yes” (alliedacademies.org). In addition, employees also have the right to be concerned with their safety when drug trafficking occurs in the workplace. Although applicants must answer “no” during the pre-employment honesty test when asked if they would ever steal from an employer, their answer cannot be held credible if, once employed, they arrive at work intoxicated. The possibilities never end here, like with things such as fighting or stealing, no matter what the applicant’s initial answer on the test was, whether or not they answered honestly. However, when intoxicated, the employee is not in the right state of mind, which was how the question was intended to be answered. Despite these examples, pre-employment testing helps to narrow down the possibility of a problem such as this occurring in the workplace. Pre-employment testing also saves employers money. Money loss can occur through wages paid for unproductive hours during downtime or wages paid when employees are absent or tardy, which then leads to wages paid for employees filling in for the absentee. Also, companies must pay for the damages that these employees have caused, as well as legal or court fees, if necessary. Employers pay for employee health care and rehabilitation, along with insurance despite the trouble the worker has caused the company. The US Department of Labor states that drug use on the job costs employers $75 to $100 billion dollars a year in lost time, accidents, and health care (employmentdrugtesting.com). In the long run, pre-employment testing is nothing but beneficial. The tests help to prevent major problems in the workplace, as well as lead to employees receiving help for their addictions. Additionally, pre-employment testing helps avoid lawsuits filed against companies for health and safety issues. Testing not only proves advantageous for the employers, but the employees as well. They help keep the workplace safe and workers can receive free treatment if needed, instead of losing their job because of their problems. All businesses in the United States should require pre-employment testing. Works Cited "Academy for Studies in Business Law Journal." 1999. 10 Nov. 2005 <http://www.alliedacademies.org/law/asblj2-1.pdf>. Congress of the United States Office of Technology Assessment. The Use of Integrity Tests for Pre-Employment Screening. 1990. "D & I: Workers with Disabilities." Take Advantage of Your Employee Assistance Program. 08 Nov. 2005 <http://diversity.monster.com/wwd/articles/eap/>. "Drugs and Alcohol Testing Under the American with Disabilities Act." Comprehensive Advocacy, Inc.. 08 Nov. 2005 <http://users.moscow.com/co-ad/publications/ADAdrugAlcholTest.htm>. Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed. New York: Henry Holt & Company, LLC, 2001. Infolinkscreening.com. Employee Drug Testing Solutions. 26 Oct. 2005-10-26 <http://www.infolinkscreening.com/InfoLink/DrugTesting/DrugTesting.aspx>. Miner, John B., and Michael H. Capps. How Honesty Testing Works. Westport: Quorum Books, 1996. Rosen, Les. "Intro to Drug Screening." 27 Oct. 2005 <http://www.employmentdrugtesting.com/>. "Workplace Substance Abuse." Occupational Safety & Health Administration. 08 Nov. 2005 <http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/substanceabuse/>.
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