Anybody having read any of the blog posts I have taken the time to craft is probably aware that I typically take somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand words for each article. I do this for a number of reasons.
The first reason is, I know that the average person is not “up for” reading very much at any given time. I assume this is a result of a number of potential factors, but choose to believe one of the most important is that they lack the time, plain and simple.
I know well it can be argued that even the thousand word limit is too great. The problem is, I’ve seen too much “damage” done by less. To put it simply, most folks these days, have taken to regurgitating clever sounding “sound bites” that are—being blunt—often barely worth the bandwidth employed to fetch them—much less repeat them.
This leads to my second reason—though not my last, the last one I will cite in this post—that being that I desire to present some level of support and basis for what I say; a thing it seems to me, can hardly be done in less space.
About now, you’re probably wondering what on Earth this has to do with the title of this post, and you’re not wrong to ask. The former is a touch of digression that I’m using to explain part of what brought me to write this article.
You see, I was perusing my Facebook “feed” when I came across a clever sounding argument against dismissing workers from a given employment position based on abuse of various substances.
The essence of this (too) short piece of text was, “If you have to test to determine whether a person is (ab)using drugs or alcohol, it’s because you don’t really know it’s the case.”
The problem is that this is “faulty logic.” You see, more often than not (probably most of the time, in point of fact), the folks requesting the testing do already know—or at least they strongly suspect—that abuse is occurring.
You can try to argue that random testing and “blanket” testing make no sense if this is true. Doing so though, would be a sign that you lack understanding of the current environment.
You see, companies most commonly “blanket” test (including pretty much everyone) on hiring folks. In doing so, they limit the potential “damage” of incoming folks abusing various substances, and as a result, causing various issues for the business for whom they are trying to go to work.
When that’s not the case, they tend to be trying to avoid being taken to court by people for various kinds of discrimination (sexual, racial and others). If they test a “set of” folks, the chances are good they will be of various ilks, so such testing seems inherently fairer. In truth, it wastes the time of employees who likely would never consider abusing various substances, but that’s life in the current business climate. In other words, without creating yet more problems, it is hard to avoid using tactics of this sort.
Random testing is often done on the same basis. If I do things from a more-or-less “lottery” perspective—unless it can be proved to be “rigged”—I cannot easily be accused of discrimination.
Truth be told though, most of the time, when people are abusing various substances (and yes, I do include alcohol in the list), employers are already well aware that people who are using are, well, using and abusing substances. They just need to be careful, lest the fall into the “you’re discriminating against me,” trap.
What’s maybe a little funnier is that employers in many states are being charitable when they drug test folks, and to their own detriment. How do I come to that conclusion? Allow me to take a moment to explain.
In many states in the United States, it’s pretty much legal for an employer to fire an employee giving no reason when he or she does so. This means that if you miss work or fail to perform according to expectations, your employer has no requirement to tell you that’s why you’re being escorted out the door. They can just as well say, “I don’t think you’re a good fit for our company.” Or something equally vague.
On the other hand, if an employer drug tests an employee, and finds they are not abusing any substance–given that there are conditions that resemble substance abuse, when that’s not what’s actually happening—they have the ability to work with the employee to see if they can figure out a way to bring the employee’s performance to a “reasonable level” if they want to keep that employee around.
Here’s the “kicker” though. If a company wants reliable drug testing, they have to either pay a lab for each test, or form a relationship with a lab or other facility so that all testing is covered (there are probably other ways to do this, but the point is the same). At some point, the employer must “pay the piper.” That is, they must pay the entity doing their testing. This costs the company money, and like any expense, somebody must pay.
Whether the employer tacks this additional cost on to what’s paid for their product or service, pays their employees less, or passes the cost on to investors is beside the point. The point is, in some way, somebody pays.
If a company were able to fire an employee for weak performance without worrying about public outcry, or court cases, it’s very likely many of them would be able to, and would cease doing drug tests. Obviously though, most companies don’t think they can do this.
The point is, it’s not that a given employer does or doesn’t know their employees are using and abusing illicit (and frankly, sometimes licit) substances, rather, it is that the level of complexity in the business environment has become overly complex, in part due to overly litigious individuals a good many of whom believe they are “entitled to” various things—not the least of which being employment.
They fail to recognize that an employer has no responsibility to employe them at all. As long as things are allowed to work this way, they will also likely “look like” they do in terms of things like drug testing.
Okay, out of time and words yet again. Have the best of times, and thanks for reading.