Why Employee Drug Test? A True Story

Workplace Drug Testing - An Important Business Consideration

Part 1

Imagine you just hired what you thought was the perfect employee. You interviewed her several times on your own and with other staff and all of you had a great feeling about her. You called all of her professional and personal references and received nothing but positive feedback. She passed her writing and computer tests with flying colors and you know she really wants the job. It seems like a no-brainer!

She works closely with you for the first several weeks training in her new position. She arrives to work at least 10 minutes early every day and always stays late. She pays great attention to your lessons, takes accurate and thorough notes and asks all the right questions. She finishes her projects in a timely manner, usually days before her deadlines. She participates in meetings bringing new ideas and suggestions to the group. She offers to head up the most difficult of projects and completes them quickly and, well, I think you get the idea.

Months go by and your new perfect employee continues to do all the right things. One day she calls in sick and ends up being out for a full week. No big deal, it happens, everyone gets sick every once in a while. After she has been back at work for a few days, you notice her mood has changed and she doesn’t have much to say in the morning staff meetings. Over the next few weeks her work becomes sloppy and incomplete, and she is not finishing her projects on time. She comes in late and leaves early. OK, I think you get the idea again. Well, what do you do?

Obviously you have to confront your employee. Something is going on and you have to look out for her as well as protect your business. You decide to have a sit down and she breaks down in tears admitting that she has been a drug user for years and she thought she could change now that she got this new, great job. You are completely caught off guard as you never suspected such a thing. How do you respond?

In my particular case, oh yeah, this is a true valtabs story, (did I mention that) I proceeded to console her as much as I could, given the tremendous shock that came with her announcement. We discussed her situation at great lengths and by the end of our conversation, she decided it would be best to walk away from the job, and how about this, do it IMMEDIATELY. WOW. Now what? After all of the time spent interviewing, training, etc. she is going to walk away.

It was completely her choice although I must admit, I had no idea at the time of how I would have handled the situation if she didn’t quit. What were the legal constraints? Would we have had to write her up or send her home? Do we mention the drug use in her file or not? Should we just fire her on the spot? Luckily I didn’t have to make a decision, she did.

She gathered her belongings and left the building. She didn’t say good bye to anyone and now was the time to construct a story I could tell to our other employees regarding her leaving. Thankfully Miss Perfect was such an efficient worker (at least in the beginning) that she didn’t take time to share much with the other employees. I created a sick family member as the excuse for her sudden departure.

I decided I had better make sure that nothing had disappeared from her office. I called the credit card company to remove her from the account. OH BOY, what did I find out then? MISS PERFECT NO MORE had racked up almost $600 in gas station and retail store charges. MY GOD, how did all of this happen? She must have known she was going to quit before we had our sit down, obviously. Then the rage started and it was not pretty.

Here lies the question: would pre-employment drug testing have prevented all of this from happening?


This is a guest blog by Kim Wilbur, an operations manager for a local company. Kim will be blogging about her ventures into employee drug testing – how to research the program you want and how to put it together. Please stick around and watch for the next part in the series!

One single comment

  1. Suzanne says:

    It never hurts to have drug testing a requisite. Most assuredly, it wards off drug addicts. If someone’s an addict, it’s in their blood stream. I would venture to say, an addict wouldn’t pursue further employment with said employer. It’s only fair ethics for everyone all the way around to consent to drug testing. Fortunately, you weren’t confronted with more than you had already been given to deal with in your employee’s resignation. I hope your next interview and employee hiring goes well and with no unforeseen strings attached, at least ones dealing with drug addiction.

    Suzanne McMillen-Fallon, Published Author (year-end 2010)
    http://www.strategicbbookpublishing.com/Mommy’s Writings: Mommy, would you like a sandwich?