Utah Drug Testing Laws 2024

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Utah Drug Testing Laws 2024

Chapter 34-38 (the Utah Drug and Alcohol Testing Act) of the Utah Code codifies the state’s stance on workplace drug testing, with a focus on balancing employee's rights and maintaining safe working conditions and a productive workforce. Per this law, employers are permitted to conduct drug tests on their employees (and prospective employees) if they have drug testing policies. While Utah’s drug testing law does not explicitly safeguard private employees from disciplinary actions (including termination) for off-duty cannabis use, it entitles them to certain protections. For instance, drug testing can only be done during or immediately after employees’ regular work hours, and employers must ensure the confidentiality of test results.

Utah maintains uniformity in drug testing regulations and does not allow individual municipalities to establish drug testing ordinances distinct from, or alter, the overarching state guidelines. This centralized approach ensures consistency across the state concerning drug testing procedures and drug-free workplace policies, maintaining a cohesive framework for employers and employees to follow.

What Kinds of Drug Tests Can Employers Conduct in Utah?

Employers in Utah can screen employees for cocaine, PCP, marijuana, amphetamines, and opiates/opioids. Notwithstanding, some employers may also test for other substances like MDMA, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, peyote, and ethanol.

With regard to marijuana use, Utah employers may conduct the following kinds of drug tests on their employees:

  • Reasonable Suspicion Tests: These are done to confirm employees’ impairment and are conducted when an employer has reasons to believe that an employee is under the influence of (or actively using) marijuana in the workplace
  • Post-accident Tests: These are done after work-related accidents and are conducted to rule out or confirm marijuana use as the cause of these incidents
  • Random Tests: These are done without prior notice to the employees being tested, who are selected using a random but consistent and unbiased system. Random tests are conducted to maintain employee productivity and product/service quality and ensure workplace safety
  • Probationary Tests: These are done on employees who have previously failed marijuana tests. Probationary tests are usually a condition of employees' rehab programs to determine if such employees are drug-free after completing their drug rehabilitation programs
  • Pre-employment Tests: These are usually done on prospective employees to determine whether they use marijuana (or other controlled or illicit substances)

Under Utah law, employers can collect urine, blood, saliva, breath, or hair samples for workplace drug testing. They are also allowed to use any scientifically accepted analytical method and procedure for analyzing the collected samples.

Can Employers Do Random Drug Testing in Utah?

Per the provisions of the Utah Drug and Alcohol Testing Act, employers can do random drug testing on their employees under the following conditions:

  • The employer has an established workplace drug testing policy and has distributed written copies of this policy to their employees
  • The testing is done in line with the terms of the employer’s written policy
  • The employers and management staff/supervisors also submit themselves to random drug testing

Employers are not required to provide prior notice before conducting random drug tests in Utah. However, the tests must be performed during or immediately after employees' regular work period. Testing must also be done with due regard for employees’ privacy.

What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test in Utah for a Job?

In Utah, employers are allowed to decide the appropriate disciplinary actions for employees and prospective employees who fail drug tests. These may usually include refusal to hire (for prospective employees), mandatory rehabilitation, treatment, or counseling program enrollment, suspension, and job termination. However, only a positive test result confirmed per state requirements can be considered a failed test. Similarly, any disciplinary or rehabilitative action that an employer takes concerning a failed drug test must be in line with the provisions of their written drug policy.

Employers who comply with the provisions of Utah’s drug testing law are legally protected from liability for any actions they take based on an employee’s failed drug test. This includes situations where a test result turns out to be inaccurate, as long as the employer’s reliance on the test result was reasonable and in good faith. Notwithstanding this, employees can seek damages or job reinstatement for any action an employer takes based on an inaccurate test result.

Can I Be Fired for Refusing a Drug Test in Utah?

Under Section 8 of the Utah Drug and Alcohol Testing Act, employers can fire any employee who refuses a drug test. Per the provisions of this Act, any employer with a workplace drug policy can take disciplinary actions, including job termination, against employees who refuse to undergo drug testing. Any employee who wishes to contest an employer’s decision to fire them because they refused a drug test can seek legal counsel from an experienced employment attorney. The attorney will assess the situation and offer advice on the proper steps to take.

Can You Get Fired for Failing a Drug Test with a Medical Card in Utah?

Per Utah Code 26B-4-207, employers cannot fire state or political subdivision employees with valid medical marijuana cards who fail marijuana drug tests without evidence of cannabis impairment. Note that this law does not cover private employees, and the Utah Drug and Alcohol Testing Act does not explicitly provide any marijuana-related protections for them. Private employers with workplace drug policies in the state can fire any employee who fails a workplace drug test regardless of whether they have a valid medical cannabis card.

Can Employers Conduct Drug Tests on Applicants in Utah?

Yes, employers can conduct drug tests on job applicants and prospective employees in Utah. However, the employer must have an established workplace drug policy and have a written copy of this policy available for review by prospective employees. They are also expected to inform applicants of their testing requirements during the recruitment process. Per state law, Utah-based employers have the right to refuse to hire any prospective employee who fails a drug test or declines to partake in it.

Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing Allowed in Utah?

Yes, pre-employment drug testing is allowed in Utah. Any employer who has a drug testing policy and complies with Utah pre-employment drug testing laws can choose to rescind the job offer already given to a prospective employee who fails a drug test or refuses to submit to a pre-employment drug test.

Does Utah Allow Public Agencies to Submit Employees to Workplace Drug Tests?

Utah’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Act does not cover public employers. Nevertheless, many public agencies in the state have established drug testing policies for their employees, especially those in safety-sensitive or security-sensitive roles.

Per Utah 26B-4-207, state and local government employers cannot fire employees for testing positive for a drug test for cannabis unless the employees show signs of impairment. However, this protection does not extend to employees whose positions are subject to federal regulations or emergency and advanced emergency medical technicians, paramedics, firefighters, and dispatchers.

Can Employers Choose to Create Drug-Free Workplace Policies?

Yes, employers in Utah can choose to create their own drug-free workplace policies and implement them. However, any employer who wishes to do this must serve each employee a written copy of the policy. The employer and their workplace management staff must also submit themselves to periodic testing per their policy requirements and comply with all sampling and testing requirements of the state's Drug and Alcohol Testing Act.

Employees Exempted From Utah Workplace Drug Testing Laws

Federal government, state government, and local political subdivision employers (and, by extension, their employees) are exempt from the provisions of the Utah Drug and Alcohol Drug Testing Act. However, no provision of this Act exempts private employees.

What are the Requirements for Drug Testing Labs in Utah?

Employers in Utah can contract any drug testing lab to conduct drug tests on their employees, provided the lab uses scientifically accepted analytical methods and procedures for drug tests. However, per Section 6 of the Utah Drug and Alcohol Testing Act, positive test results must be confirmed using gas chromatography, gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy, or a comparably reliable analytical method before being considered failed tests. If a positive drug test was from a urine sample, then the confirmation test must be conducted by a drug testing lab certified by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ National Laboratory Certification Program.

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