By Sharon Bottcher
This information is provided for educational purposes only.  Reader retains full responsibility for the use of the information contained herein.

Last month in State Drug Testing Laws Monthly we reviewed the various state laws that effect employee drug testing.  But what about federal regulations?  In addition to state laws that employers must be in compliance with, there are federal laws that must be considered as part of a workplace testing program.

Federal law is created at the national level and applies to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.  Federal law preempts conflicting state and territorial laws in most cases although again, legalized marijuana is impacting this in recent cases.  The types of federal law that may affect workplace drug testing include but are not limited to the following:

The Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act

This federal law requires drug and alcohol testing for safety sensitive transportation employees in aviation, trucking, railroads, mass transit, pipelines and other transportation industries.  These type of testing requirements are also referred to as the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).  All employers with employees that meet such requirements must comply with specific rules and regulations. 

The Drug-Free Workplace Act

The federal Drug-Free Workplace Act applies to federal contractors whose organizations have contracts of $100,000 or more, are not for acquisition of commercial goods, and are performed in the U.S.  It also applies to all organizations that are federal grantees and all individuals who receive a contract or grant from the federal government.

The Americans With Disabilities Act

This Act is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities.  Drug testing is allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because the ADA does not consider drug abuse a disability. However, there are specific protections that all employers must consider and follow to comply with this Act.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act

This Act is an agency of the United States Department of Labor (DOL) and requires certain working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing safety standards.  There are limitations regarding post-accident drug testing that employers must follow to comply with the rules.


While federal laws don’t generally change as frequently as state laws, it is still important for employers to be familiar with federal regulations that apply to their specific industry.  Employers need to be familiar with not only federal laws, but how they fit in with state laws in order to create a robust and effective workplace testing program.  It is essential that employers understand the nuances of all the various laws that apply to their workplace.  Before updating, implementing, or even continuing an old workplace testing policy, check for laws that apply to you and/or laws that might have changed since you last updated your policy.

Need help writing and/or updating your workplace policy?  Contact CCG at 215.240.8204 to get in touch with one of our expert team members.

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