Minnesota Drug Testing Laws 2024

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Minnesota Drug Testing Laws 2024

The scope of Minnesota workplace drug testing laws is based on the state's Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (DATWA). Although there is no regulation that requires an employer to drug test employees, employers who choose to do so must have written drug and alcohol testing policies that meet statutory requirements.

Minnesota legalized recreational cannabis following the passage of House File 100 (HF 100) into law in May 2023, although licenses for commercial sales may not be issued until 2025. The new law amends the DATWA and the Minnesota Lawful Consumable Products Act (CPA) to protect employees' off-duty marijuana use. The CPA prohibits employers from punishing or terminating employees for using lawful consumable products off-work, and this now includes cannabis with the amendment of the CPA by HF 100.

Per Minnesota drug testing law, an employer may not request an employee or a job candidate to undergo marijuana testing on a capricious or arbitrary basis. However, no state law requires employers to accommodate cannabis use in the workplace. Employers can discipline or fire employees found using or possessing marijuana products at work. They may also take disciplinary actions on those impaired by cannabis on duty. While Minnesota law places a limitation on testing employees for cannabis, employers are still permitted to drug test employees for cannabis under certain circumstances.

What Kinds of Drug Tests Can Employers Conduct in Minnesota?

Under the Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act, employers may test employees for drugs listed as controlled substances in Section 152.01, Subdivision 4 of the state's Statutes. These include cocaine, methadone, phencyclidine, and opiates. Employers may also test for cannabis under certain circumstances. Common specimens used for workplace drug testing in the state are blood, hair, and urine. As stipulated in the DATWA, the following are authorized workplace drug testing types in the state:

  • Reasonable Suspicion Testing: An employer can conduct this test type if they have reasonable reasons to believe an employee is under the influence of drugs or has violated the employer's drug-free workplace policy
  • Routine Physical Examination Testing - This drug test is usually administered as part of a workplace routine physical examination. An employer is required to give employees at least 2 weeks' notice of the intention to drug test them as part of the physical examination. In Minnesota, this is usually conducted once a year
  • Job Applicant Testing - An employer may choose to drug test job applicants after providing them with job offers
  • Treatment Program Testing - This is conducted on employees participating in a chemical dependency treatment or evaluation program. An employer can administer this type of drug test without notice to employees during the treatment or evaluation period and for 2 years after the end of any prescribed treatment
  • Random Testing - If a person is employed in a safety-sensitive position or is a professional athlete, Minnesota employers may request them to submit to random drug testing

Can Employers Do Random Drug Testing in Minnesota?

Yes, it is possible to request certain employees to submit to random drug testing under the Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act. Usually, only the following categories of employees may be required to submit to random test in the state:

  • Professional athletes who are subject to a collective bargaining agreement allowing random drug testing
  • Employee handling safety-sensitive positions. Under state laws, such positions are considered jobs in which a drug impairment can potentially threaten a person's health or safety

What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test in Minnesota for a Job?

In Minnesota, an employer can take disciplinary action against any employee who fails an initial drug screening based on a confirmatory test verifying a positive test result. However, state law protects employees who fail drug tests for the first time from dismissal. Employees who fail a workplace drug test for the first time may request a retest. Nevertheless, this will be impossible if their employer has first offered them the opportunity to participate in a drug treatment or counseling program and they failed to participate. Failing a workplace drug test for a second time in Minnesota has serious consequences, including being discharged from employment.

Can I Be Fired for Refusing a Drug Test in Minnesota?

The consequences of refusing a workplace drug test in Minnesota are at the employers' discretion, but sometimes, employees may be fired for refusing drug tests. Typically, employers in the state must include employees’ right to refuse drug testing and the potential consequences in their workplace drug testing policies. Any employee who wishes to contest their employer's decision to fire them for refusing a drug test may contact an employment attorney. However, this does not guarantee that they will be reinstated to their jobs.

Can You Get Fired for Failing a Drug Test with a Medical Card in Minnesota?

Employees registered in the Minnesota Cannabis Registry have certain protections under state law. One of them is that employers are prohibited from firing them for testing positive for medical cannabis, although subject to limited exceptions. Employees whose appointments are wrongfully terminated for testing positive for a drug test for medical cannabis can make some legal claims under the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

Generally, Minnesota law prohibits discriminating against employees or job applicants solely because of their status as medical cannabis patients or because they test positive for medical cannabis. Employers may only take personnel actions against employees with state-issued medical cannabis cards if they are caught using or possessing cannabis products or are impaired by marijuana on workplace premises. An employee who is a medical cannabis patient may be entitled to some accommodation for using medical marijuana to treat a disability under Minnesota law.

Can Employers Conduct Drug Tests on Applicants in Minnesota?

Minnesota employers are not permitted to subject job applicants to any drug test during the interview state. They may only request applicants to submit to workplace drug tests if they (applicants) have been offered the jobs. However, state law prohibits subjecting job candidates to drug tests for marijuana, except in certain circumstances.

Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing Allowed in Minnesota?

Yes. Employers with workplace drug testing policies in Minnesota may request job candidates to undergo drug testing after giving them conditional job offers. However, when requesting new hires to submit to a pre-employment drug test in a workplace, the same test must be conducted on all job applicants conditionally offered employment for the same job role. Any employer that intends to drug test new hires must provide them with its workplace drug testing policy if the job offer is made contingent on the candidates passing drug testing.

Unless state or federal law requires it, no Minnesota employer may request a job candidate to undergo marijuana testing solely to determine the absence or presence of cannabis as a condition of employment. Hence, unless required by state or federal law, an employer cannot refuse to hire a job applicant solely because their drug test result indicates the presence of marijuana. If a new hire's job offer is withdrawn for failing a pre-employment drug test, the employer must inform the job candidate of the reason for its decision.

Does Minnesota Allow Public Agencies to Submit Employees to Workplace Drug Tests?

Although no employer has a legal duty to request an employee to submit to drug testing in Minnesota, employers may choose to drug test employees handling certain job roles. This also applies to public agencies in the state. For instance, a public employer may subject school bus drivers to workplace drug testing in a school district because they are subject to federal-mandated testing and do not require school teachers to undergo testing.

Can Employers Choose to Create Drug-Free Workplace Policies?

Yes. While it is not mandatory under state law, employers wishing to maintain drug-free workplaces in Minnesota may create drug-free workplace policies to achieve that. However, such policies must align with the state's Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act. Upon adopting a drug-free workplace policy, an employer is expected to provide all affected employees with written notice of the policy. Per Section 181.952 of Minnesota Statutes, an employer's drug-free workplace policy must contain at least the following:

  • An employee's or job applicant's right to refuse drug testing and the consequences of refusal
  • Employees and job candidates who are subject to drug testing under the drug-free workplace policy
  • An employee's or job applicant's right to explain the reason for a positive test result on a confirmatory test
  • The circumstances under which the employer may request drug testing
  • The types of disciplinary action that may be taken if an employee tests positive for a drug test on an initial drug screening test

Employees Exempted From Minnesota Workplace Drug Testing Laws

Although Minnesota workplace drug testing laws prohibit employers from arbitrarily conducting drug tests for marijuana on employees, there are certain exceptions. Under state law, cannabis and its metabolites are considered a drug for certain job positions, and employers are required to drug test individuals handling such positions for cannabis. They include the following:

  • Peace officer position
  • Safety-sensitive position
  • Firefighter position
  • Any position requiring a commercial driver's license or demanding that an employee operates a motor vehicle for which state or federal law requires drug testing an employee
  • Any employment position funded by a federal grant
  • A job position requiring caring, educating, counseling, medical assistance, or supervising vulnerable adults, children, or patients receiving health care services for mental or psychiatric conditions

What are the Requirements for Drug Testing Labs in Minnesota?

Minnesota Statutes, Section 181.953, emphasizes the use of licensed, certified, or accredited laboratories for workplace drug testing by employers in the state. Generally, such labs are expected to satisfy at least one of the following standards for workplace drug testing:

  • Must be accredited by the College of American Pathologists under the forensic urine drug testing laboratory program
  • Must be certified by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as meeting the compulsory guidelines issued at 53 Federal Register 11970 to 11989, April 11, 1988
  • Must be licensed to test for drugs by the New York Department of Health

In Minnesota, a drug testing lab must conduct a confirmatory test on all specimens that showed a positive test result on an initial workplace screening test. After confirmation, the test result must be disclosed to the employer within three working days. A test report must show the drugs tested and indicate whether the test produced positive or negative results.

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