Yesterday's blog addressed Iowa Code 730.5 that governs drug testing laws in Iowa and the rules that employers must follow when testing employees in order to avoid legal liability. Employees can sue their employer or former employer if the employer failed to follow these strict rules. For example, if the employer fails to maintain and provide a written policy explaining the requirements of 730.5(9), or fails to maintain written proof of receipt of said policy by the employee, the employee can make a strong argument that the employer failed to follow the law to inform employees of the drug testing policy and the employee cannot therefore be subject to the consequences of a positive drug test. The employee may also sue the employer if they were tested for a reason other than one of the valid reasons for testing, such as if a "random" test was not in fact selectedly randomly as required by the rules. The employee must also receive written notification if their test came back positive and be informed of their rights to have the split sample tested again. If the employer fails to notify the employee of these rights, the employer is also in violation of 730.5 and may be subject to legal liability.
One issue that occurs in drug-testing of employees is when the employee is unable to provide a sample of sufficient quantityto be tested. Iowa Code does not speak directly to this issue and therefore does not have clear rules that the employer must follow in order to protect employees' rights. Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations do speak to this issue and provide guidelines for employers, but unless the employer includes these rules in their written policies given to the employees, the employee can again make an argument that they were not adequately informed of the rules required to be followed for this "shy bladder" situation. For example, the federal rules prohibit the employee from "leaving the testing site" during the testing process (i.e. while the employee is waiting at the facility to provide a second sample). Yet if the employer does not inform its employees of this rule and the employer intends to use this rule against the employee, the employee would certainly have a strong case against the employer if he were fired for this reason, and may have further arguments for damages depending on the circumstances.
Employees would be wise to familiarize themselves with the Iowa statute governing drug-testing rules so that they are informed of what testing procedures are or are not acceptable and when the employee may have legal recourse.