We hear it all the time: “Can I randomly test someone for reasonable suspicion?” This question is asked in many different industries and for many different reasons. So the question remains, can we do it?

Unfortunately, no testing for suspicion is not legal. Random drug testing is different than reasonable suspicion drug testing. To understand the difference, we have to look at the requirements for each.

Reasonable suspicion drug testing is a retroactive approach to a visible issue. It must be the result of impartial views and you must have specific, documented events. There is an objective checklist to go through and your supervisors should be trained on recognizing the signs to have justifiable reasonable suspicion and document as necessary.

Some indications to test for reasonable suspicion include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Odor of alcohol on the body or breath
  • Slurred speech
  • Unsteady standing or walking
  • Inability or difficulty completing routine tasks
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Unpredictable or unusual behavior

It is encouraged to have two supervisors agree on reasonable suspicion drug testing.

Random drug testing is a part of a deterrent program, rather than a retroactive approach. To comply with random drug testing, a scientific process should be used to determine who is chosen for the random drug testing. Using a third party company to manage your random drug testing is recommended since they will not be biased or linked to your employees. A third party company also helps you overcome liability issues that could occur. Documenting is again a key component to this approach.  Random drug testing includes all employees and they will be randomly tested at various times and every employee has an equal chance of being pulled.

Since random drug testing includes all employees and each employee has an equal chance of being pulled, you cannot randomly test an employee for reasonable suspicion.  If you have an objective issue, it is no longer a random test.  It is best practice to have a policy in place for your company on both types of drug testing. Every business and workforce is unique; each company should make a cautious determination about the drug testing program essentials that are most beneficial for their workplace.