Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Workplace Pre-Employment Drug Screenings

One of the legacies of the Reagan Era that has been the most aggravating for workers, as well as a waste of time, money, and manpower, has been the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988. This act, and the tax breaks that companies get for participating in it, is a waste of money. The anti-drug hysteria of 1980s conservatism was just that -- a hysteria. It's always been an irrational fear of people who smoke pot, based on delusions pushed on people by conservatives and religious nuts.

I've had several jobs since 1988, and each one of them required a pre-employment drug screening. Now, I don't do drugs, and have nothing to hide from taking these tests, but every time I take them, it's a hassle. I've had to wait in lines for long periods, often having to really go bad, because I made sure I had plenty to drink. On one occasion, the people administring the tests were just kids who passed a course at one of those quickie learning centers, and they made mistakes, forcing me to pee a second time. Then, on one memorable occasion, I arrived at the location given to me by the employer, and the place was closed -- as in out of business. They sent me on an all day-trip looking for a bunch of clinics on their extremely out-dated list, each one of which was either no longer a diagnostics place, or which had moved. By the time I got to the last clinic on their list, and found it open, I was in serious pain from holding my pee all day, and I had to wait another hour before I could take the test.

It's aggravating that anyone should have to go through this just to get a job, and just so that your employer can get a tax break, paid for by your taxes, for this utter nonsense.

I call it nonsense, because almost nobody is ever failed on these tests, and often times, you can re-test. Also -- there are plenty of tried-and-true methods for passing on a test, which allow many people to cheat the system. Anyone can carry clean pee with them in a bag. As long as testing allows you to have privacy in the rest room, anyone can cheat by bringing someone else's clean pee in a catheter bag. If employers and government REALLY wanted to test for drugs effectively, they would use Hair, blood, and tissue tests, which are far more accurate, and which few people could cheat on.

Pre-employment drug screenings are a political test. It's basically an employer's or governemnt's way of placing you in a box that says "This person is unpatriotic, liberal, or some kind of trouble-maker". It's obviously not about safety, because if it were, they would want to screen for psychiatric drugs, rather than recreational ones. See, there have been far more workplace safety issues -- and annoying little workplace killing sprees -- attributed to doctor-prescribed psychiatric medication than to marijuana or methamphetamines.

If the government and employers REALLY wanted to test people for drugs that were actually a danger to workers and management, they SHOULD be screening people for Prosac, Zoloft, and Paxil, all of which have such wonderful side-effects as Suicidal tendencies, and other psychotic mood swings .

The term "Going postal" was coined after several well-publicized incidents of post-office killing sprees, perpetrated by people who were on Prosac or other doctor-prescribed antidepressants. It would make far more sense for workplaces to screen people for Prosac to keep us safe from potential killing sprees. Call it discrimination against the mentally ill, but am I wrong for not wanting to work around head-cases who will annoy me with their drama, or have breakdowns for whatever reason, or who might flip out and go on a killing Spree? I do not discriminate against race, creed, color, sex, or sexuality, but I do not believe I am wrong for discriminating against psychos.

If I was going to work somewhere, I'd prefer to work around potheads, than to work around fragile-emotioned potential psychopaths who might forget a few doses of their meds, then come to work with a duffel bag full of guns and ammo. Besides, apart from being mostly harmless while under the influence, potheads will make me look like a much better worker, because they'd be high, goofing around, and well, acting like potheads, while I was actually doing my job. Of course, this is pure fantasy -- the government's own statistics show that people who smoke pot often work just as efficiently as non-pot smokers, but I digress.

Don't keep potheads out of jobs -- keep psychotic people out of jobs, until they can be cured or controlled of their illness. How many people will have to die in workplace-related violence before government realizes that people with serious psychotic disorders are far more dangerous than someone who smokes weed occasionally.


kim23 said...

In my opinion, a pre-employment faa drug testing is absolutely necessary in the workplace. It seems that more and more companies use it nowadays.

David W. Irish said...

What makes them neccesary, and did you even read the article?

Caleb said...

concur- we ran into the same side-effects when we were putting our Zoloft birth defects website together.