At one point in time or another, we’ve all had to partake in some form of test in order to get a job. Drug tests, background checks, word tests or even putting parts together are all of the different types of tests which can be given. The truth is, there is no law forbidding any of these tests as long as certain criteria are met.
Drug Tests: These are probably the most common amongst companies today because more and more employers are trying to reduce on the job accidents or even worker’s compensation cases. The Public Policy Institute of New York State Incorporated posted statistics by state back in 2002-2003 and found Louisiana to have an average workers compensation case cost of $14,189. I would say looking at a figure this large for just one case can be compelling enough for employers to want to drug test as a condition of employment. Please keep in mind, a drug test should only be performed after a verbal offer has been extended and accepted by the employee. The written offer letter should be put together and the employee should get it (keep in mind a disclosure should be put at the bottom saying employment is contingent upon successful completion of both a background and drug test). Even though the figure above was from 12-13 years ago, I’m sure it’s just as high due to inflation. Here is a link to the figures by state: http://www.ppinys.org/reports/jtf/workerscomp.html.
Keep in mind drug tests must be administered among everyone and not just a certain group. It has to be a requirement everyone has to follow. I would also recommend drug tests after each worker’s compensation case to rule out intoxication from drugs or alcohol since the employer bears so much risk with injuries and accidents. Be certain to put this in your policy manual and ensure all applicants have read and signed off on it.
Background Checks: A background check may not be initiated without having the employee sign off their authority to have one performed on them. This is generally achieved by having the employee sign off a Fair Credit Report Act disclosure and have a summary of their rights under the act. Background Checks cannot be performed until after a verbal offer has been accepted. Again, the applicant must be advised how employment is contingent on successful completion of a background check. If any adverse results come up on the background check, the employee generally has 3 business days to contest these results and get back with the employer with information. Here is a link to the Fair Credit Reporting Act: https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/rules/rulemaking-regulatory-reform-proceedings/fair-credit-reporting-act.
Employment Tests: These are generally the least common as not many employers can prove these tests can prove successful performance on the job. Lifting tests, question and answer tests, putting parts together or even performing the job are the different types of tests. Firefighters are required to lift a certain amount of weight above their head in order to be considered for employment. This particular test can exclude many females and could possibly looked at as adversely impacting them; however, lifting dead weight over your head is required as a bona-fide occupational qualification (which basically means it is essential for the job). I’ve taken many different types of question and answer tests and really don’t see a connection between the test and the job. I’ve been particularly perplexed when I’m asked questions like, “If you were a cash register worker and had more cash than you were supposed to, would you pocket the rest?” I would honestly have to be out of my mind to answer “yes” because I don’t steal.
I do laugh at some of the questions like, “I feel entitled to office supplies because I work hard.” These tests are actually behavioral/situational and can predict past behavior. I can see this being very important for cash handling jobs, but the interview should be a time to ask these types of questions. The one case which sticks out in my mind is the Griggs V. Duke Power; this case consisted of a power company with only 12 African Americans. The company had a policy where African American men were only allowed to work in the labor department (which was also the lowest paid job) and after the passage of Title VI of 1964, the employer required either a high school diploma or certain scores on their IQ tests to move into a high paying job. This test did not prove to be a predictor of successful job performance as white males promoted into higher positions without high school diplomas performed at a satisfactory level. So be certain if you wish to start testing your employees and applicants, you do so in a manner which does not have discriminatory intent. Doing so can have severe implications unless you can prove a bona-fide occupational qualification and how successful completion of the test predicts successful job performance. Here is a link to the case: http://www.naacpldf.org/case/griggs-v-duke-power-co.