Essay by popdaddy008University, Master'sA, July 2004

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Why should American workers be compelled to submit to drug tests? Removing a part of an employee's body for testing--even so insignificant a part as hair or urine--seems to contradict some of the nation's most revered protections of individual privacy. Moreover, drug tests are often unreliable, are liable to be misused for discriminatory purposes, and could be employed as tools of intimidation. At the same time, however, concerns about public safety might appear in certain instances to override the desire to protect individuals' rights to privacy. As such, drug testing would seem to be justifiable for employees whose work performances potentially affect the safety of members of the public. This paper explores the controversy over drug testing, examining those conditions that would justify a company testing its employees for drugs. It also demonstrates that in recent years employers, policymakers, and America's legal system have moved drug testing far beyond justifiable boundaries.

A firm ethical standard for companies contemplating drug testing can be obtained from the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stipulates that: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized" (quoted in Shutler, 1996, p. 1266). In previous years, company leaders as well as experts in legal and policymaking circles adhered rather closely to these constitutional protections in determining what constituted appropriate drug testing. For instance, when the nation's highest court first dealt with the constitutionality of workplace drug testing in the 1989 case of Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives' Association, it ruled that employers could only bypass the warrant or probable cause...