Can you get Fired for Failing a Drug Test in California?


The United States is a liberal country with an open mind to the world, but when it comes to professionalism, many companies are strict in their domestic policies. One of the most common problems they face is employees who are users of marijuana, but also of heavier drugs. In New York, worker testing is prohibited by law but is governed by an internal policy and rules of appropriate professional conduct.

But in California, it’s a different story. The employer may, under certain conditions, request a drug test for one of its employees. Officially, by law, random testing without notice is not allowed. However, if it is a specific industry and it is regulated by the institutions, then such tests are allowed.

According to Health Street, California is a country where employers, in addition to regulating testing with internal rules, must do so in accordance with California law, but also with the regulations of the city where the company is located. Such tests are often allowed in the event of a workplace accident resulting from human error. The presence of drugs and alcohol in the person who caused the accident must be ruled out in the first instance so that the investigation can continue.

Can you lose your job because of a failed drug test?

If the company has corporate rules according to which if the employee consumes any drug, they should be fired, then this is likely to happen. The same can be said for alcohol and certain types of drugs. When it comes to alcohol there are companies that would send employees to therapy, but they are also rare.

Therefore, it is much more important to adhere to corporate policies instead of laws. If their corporate rules state that the consumption of narcotics is prohibited in any way, it means that they are engaged in a specific profession where it is not allowed and have already reported it to the legislature.

In which sectors is random testing allowed?

In government institutions, but also in the private sector, it can happen that tests are performed without announcement, depending on which activity is performed. For example, California courts regularly test their employees, and this is legal until discrimination is proven. Drug test policies must apply to all employees of the company or institution, so random testing is avoided, as it can happen unintentionally that someone is discriminated against.

Even when applying for a job, the employer can test its candidates if it deems it necessary. Random testing in areas not relevant to public safety is not permitted.

In doing so, it is important to know that in the private sector, the following situations are crucial in the testing decision:

  1. Elimination period before employment – In this situation, all applicants are tested at the expense of the employer. Previously, the company received permission from the authorities to implement it. This eliminates candidates who are not suitable for the position and gives preference to those who do not use drugs. The candidate may also choose to leave the recruitment process if he or she considers these tests to be an invasion of his or her privacy.
  2. There is a suspicion of a particular worker – If the profession does not allow the worker to be under the influence of psychotropic substances, but still he or she shows symptoms, then the employer has the right, on the basis of suspicion, to request testing.
  3. Random testing under specific conditions – In the United States, random testing is considered violence against workers’ rights, but in some sectors, it is more than necessary, especially in those dealing with security issues. This means that a group of workers is randomly selected and that test is performed without notice. But even in 10 random situations, it can happen that the same worker is tested many times so that he understands it personally or discriminatory. However, in some sectors, it simply has to be done that way.
  4. After an unfortunate event – Workplace accidents are not uncommon, but if there is a suspicion that someone has caused something like this due to the action of a psychotropic substance, it is necessary to immediately do the test and prove whether the person is guilty or not.
  5. If the job itself requires it – Machine driving, transportation, production process monitoring, public safety, and many more are professions in which the worker is not allowed to be under the influence of narcotics, not even marijuana. Because of this, employers incorporate testing rules into corporate policies and the employee is aware of them from day one.

Is it legal to be fired after a positive drug test?

There are very specific conditions under which that decision is made. For example, chronically ill workers must inform their employers of their condition and the therapy they use. There is always a risk that some rules and exceptions will be on the verge of discrimination because in certain sectors it is impermissible to be under any medication that affects the focus, motor skills, and reflexes. Based on that, the employer adopts the job and the responsibilities or is honest with the candidate that the nature of the job does not allow it.

However, in cases where the worker is healthy, without a medical history, and uses drugs that impair productivity and consistent performance of work, if the test is positive, dismissal may be granted.

The employee has the right to object if he thinks that he is a victim of some kind of discrimination, but there should be evidence for that or a good lawyer who will work in his favor.


California is a state where a lot of things are allowed, as long as it does not make you a less professional or bad worker. The employer has the right to decide what is best for the company, but do not forget your right to suspect discrimination – but you must prove it in order to get a verdict in your case.