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WV House passes drug-testing bill


The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Thursday, March 23 that would allow private employers to require drug-testing of workers.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Delegate John Shott, R-Mercer, said the program outlined under House Bill 2857, called the Safer Workplaces Act, would be completely optional on the part of employers. It would allow companies to test employees for drugs or alcohol.

Shott said the employer would have to bear the costs of drug testing, which would have to be done either before or after an employee’s work day. Employees would have to be paid during the testing period, and the employer would have to pay for transportation if the testing were to be done off-site.

Shott said a positive drug or alcohol test would require a second test, and said the employee would have the right to have part of the same sample tested by another laboratory.

Under the proposed legislation, House Bill 2857, employers would decide what level of intoxication was acceptable in the workplace, and would decide on what levels of discipline were appropriate. “It doesn’t mean if you failed the drug test you’re automatically terminated,” he said.

Delegate Tim Miley, D-Harrison, asked whether employers would be told if an employee was on prescribed anti-depressants or other drugs, or was pregnant, or had diabetes, if that information was discovered during a drug test. Shott said there was nothing to preclude employers from seeing that information.

Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, questioned the constitutionality of the bill. Fleischauer argued that the state Supreme Court has ruled employees can only be drug-tested if there’s a reasonable suspicion that they are on drugs, or if they are in a safety-sensitive job.

Fleischauer said the bill would allow employers to set whatever drug standards they wanted, and said she would vote against the bill.

The bill passed by a vote of 80-19. It now goes to the Senate for debate.

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