Pre-employment Drug Screening

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate was 9.1 % for the month of September, 2011. Based on Huff Post Business in October 17, 2011 edition reported 5 million US workers are no longer the official 14.5 million who are unemployed. In other words, these 5 million workers are no longer seeking employment. The unemployment rate among Blacks is the highest in twenty-seven years; a rate of 16.7%.Yet there are signs of hope. According to CNN Money, during the month of September, employers added 103, 000 jobs. Job seekers who are fortunate enough to land an interview are confronted with another hurdle, passing a pre-employment drug screen.

Recently, I was afforded an opportunity to get an interview and a job offer for an ideal job. Prior to being hired, I was asked to undergo a pre-employment drug screen. This was not a problem for me since I seldom take an aspirin and I choose not to drink anything stronger than a glass of ginger ale. I was surprised what I witnessed the day I went for a pre-employment drug screen. First I was asked to sign in and to be seated. After waiting for about fifteen minutes, the examiner, a middle- age woman, came to the area I was sitting and asked for my form that included my name and bar code. She entered my information in the computer. Then I was asked to give a sample. Upon giving the screener my sample, I was told “you didn’t give sufficient amount.” I asked if I could attempt to try again. She replied: “No you have to wait about thirty minutes to an hour then try again.” I was escorted back to the waiting area. When I attempted to drink water, she told me: “You can’t drink more than five cups of water.”

One hour later, a young robust male came for his pre-employment screening. Once he signed in, he was whisked back into the screening area. Fifteen minutes later, he was finished. The examiner returned and invited me back to retry. This time she sat outside while I proceeded to give a sample. She took my sample and labeled it and asked me to initial it. Meanwhile, the robust young man who was tested earlier sample was still being analyzed. Once his analysis was completed, the examiner blurted out: “Oh he failed.” Then she proceeded to take my sample and attach it to the young man’s results. I asked her; “what are you doing that is my sample don’t you see my initials?” She claimed, “Oh I had a hard day.” I was so upset until I phoned the prospective employer and informed them what transpired. Was this a mistake or was the intent of this examiner to help the previous individual at all cost as to exchange my sample with his? As I left, I thought about those desperate job seekers who were waiting to be tested who had reached the final step of becoming gainful employed. However, their fate would be determined by this one examiner.

Employers should adopt certain quality control measures to monitor companies they contract to perform pre-employment drug testing to prevent unscrupulous examiners from fostering the hiring of employees that may not be aligned with the culture of their organization; moreover, to ensure the hiring of qualified applicants.


Bureau of Labor Statistics

Huff Post Business

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