As extensive drug use elevates, countless employers have growing concerns over the performance and quality of their employees. Some of the consequences of drug use in the workplace include injuries, loss of morale and productivity, theft, absenteeism, and fatalities (Frone, 2012). Drug testing in the workplace was born out of society’s apprehension over an apparent rise in drug use and the interrelationship between drugs and injury. This relation led to risks involving the worker, his or her colleagues, and the public. In a bid to reduce the risks of drug use, employers found it necessary to implement a drug-testing program in the workplace. There are efficient approaches to tackle the problem of drug use while still maintaining a trustworthy workplace environment. This essay expounds on, and supports the notion that workplace drug testing is a violation of an employee’s autonomy and privacy.
Many employers are not conscious to the fact that drug testing in the workplace poses a number of problems. One of the biggest concerns regarding drug testing is the constitutionality of the procedure (Moore, 2012). Clearly, it infringes upon the autonomy and privacy of the employee. Employers have failed to acquaint themselves with the established and new laws on drug testing and human rights attached to the employees. The validity and consistency of some of the drug tests have come into question. For instance, tests on alcohol cannot determine whether an employee is a casual drinker or an alcoholic (Frone, 2012). Therefore, testing an employee’s personal lifestyle is a gross violation of their privacy.
Workplace drug testing has proven to be a very controversial issue in emerging studies. It has brought to light concerns regarding the right to privacy and the extent of an employer’s limit in the investigation of an employee’s life outside work. The obvious worry among employees is that such tests are unfair and may lead to their dismissal from work and the unlawful release of test outcomes. Consequently, law courts have had to enforce regulations that provide limits concerning workplace drug testing and the utilization of the assessment outcomes. For that reason, infringement of the set limits is a violation on the right of an employee’s privacy.
Workplace drug testing faces a number of challenges regarding the employee’s autonomy and privacy. Many employees usually get the feeling that their constitutional rights regarding privacy and autonomy undergo violation after subjection to demeaning and degrading drug tests (Andre & Velasquez, 2014). It is a breach of employees’ privacy because of the nature of drug testing. It is mandatory that an administrator is present during drug tests to ensure that there is no adulteration of the specimen. Drug tests involving breath and hair do not offer any challenge to a majority of employees; however, urine assessments for both men and women are intimidating due to direct observation of the urine samples.
The humiliating nature of drug testing creates negative emotions in workers who feel that they appear as criminals under scrutiny. There is violation of employee’s autonomy and privacy when a worker has to urinate in a tiny vessel while under the observation of an administrator. It is also inhumane that they do not have access to clean running water during the procedure as a measure to avoid contamination of the urine samples (Hegarty & Stallard, 2012). Employees adhere to such breaches to avoid losing their occupations and not necessarily out of a need to uphold the dignity of the company.
Pregnancy, genetic, and infectious diseases are some of the things that can arise from a drug examination (Goldberger, Liu, & Ropero-Miller, 2009). These results are highly private and may make employees uncomfortable when such crucial information is exposed. Resultantly, the outcomes of the tests may lower the self-confidence of the employees. This may lead to low-morale workers who deliver low quality work. Some employees may also result to quit their formal employment due to the gross infringement of their privacy and autonomy.
Workplace drug testing may not always provide consistent and precise results. The accuracy of the results may be due to the careless collection and mixing of samples, inefficient and incompetent technicians and laboratories, and a lack of review (Frone, 2012). Resultantly, there may be assessment and analysis of inefficient and incorrect data on drug use of an employee. This may lead to suspicions and uncertainties, which may in turn develop misplaced accusations concerning drug use. Innocent workers whose privacy rights are infringed may lose their form of livelihood.
Workplace drug testing creates a fallacy of security at the workplace. In actuality, it does not improve anything in terms of morale, productivity, and output. It creates an environment filled with mistrust and fear among the workers (Karch, 2008). In most companies, there are no agreements made prior to drug testing. Impromptu drug tests that may yield inconclusive results violate the employee’s right to privacy and autonomy.
Workplace drug testing is not convenient in the conclusive determination of a drug user. Some types of tests are predisposed to misinterpretations, evasion, and inaccuracy. In scenarios where an employee happens to have a mixture of drugs in their system, there is a limit in the conclusions that the employer can draw from the results (Moore, 2012). Drug tests cannot effectively illuminate on the effects of drugs on an individual’s performance and safety at work. Therefore, workers should not undertake such tests since they violate their privacy by producing intrusive results.
A bad working relationship between the employer and employee is a consequence of workplace drug testing. Reasonably, employees may have justifiable personal reasons as to why they are consuming some drugs. These reasons may be medical, psychological, and social (Moore, 2012). The duration of drug existence within their bodies may also indicate a history of drug use and not necessarily a recurring recent drug problem. By receiving punishments due to activities related to their personal lives, workers feel that the employers are snatching their autonomy from them. Consequently, in an effort to prevent tension, employees stay away from their employers. This animosity yields negative outcomes on the throughput of the company. With such invasion, there is violation of privacy and autonomy of employees.
Supporters of workplace drug testing argue that the analyses are necessary to ensure safety and productivity in the workplace (Andre & Velasquez, 2014); however, occupations that require sobriety and alertness like truck drivers and airline pilots do not rely on drug analysis to ensure safety. Most careers that require great levels of sensitivity have rare cases of employee impairment due to drugs. There exists no account of airline accidents because of a pilot’s drug use. Moreover, drug testing infringes the privacy of an employee by publicly highlighting the company’s suspicion regarding their employees’ drug use (Ferraro, 2012).
Sensitive occupations like medicine and airline navigation may reduce customer faith in an employee who publicly undergoes a drug test. In turn, this may question their competency even without affirmative results. By doing so, the employee may risk losing his or her customers’ confidence. Many less intrusive methods exist that can be used to determine the effectiveness of an employee (Andre & Velasquez, 2014). These methods do not infringe on the workers’ right to privacy and autonomy. Performance tests conducted by computers are a good way of measuring the productivity of employees. Reasonably, they measure the response time and hand-eye synchronization. These methods have better ethics compared to drug testing, which violates employee’s right to autonomy.
The invasive nature of drug analysis in workers mandates that workplace drug testing undergo careful evaluation. This is to verify whether the benefits outweigh the rights of the employee to autonomy and privacy. No justification is possible to support the argument that workplace drug testing is an efficient way of policing workers’ behavior and improving their productivity. There should be employment of better systems of management to encourage positive results, which will enhance the workplace environment and lead to productivity.
Workplace drug testing, when implemented in a fair manner, is a critical activity to any company. A company that plans to utilize drug testing at the workplace must guarantee uniformity with the employees’ right to autonomy and privacy. The most efficient way of undertaking drug analyses in the workplace is to sensitize employees on the negative effects of drug utilization on their health and productivity. This will aid employers in gaining consent from employees. Therefore, it is evident that workplace drug testing has proven to be a breach of privacy and has in turn shown more demerits to the ethical clause in employment. Every employee should protect his or her freedom and advocate for the protections provided by the constitution.
Andre, C., & Velasquez, M. (2014). Markkula Center for Applied Ethics . Retrieved March 18, 2014, from Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Web site: https://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v1n1/test.html
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Hegarty, D. D., & Stallard, M. (2012). A Practical Guide to Drugs and Alcohol Testing:Everything You Wanted to Know About Drugs and Alcohol Testing But Were Afraid to Ask. . Claygate: Grosvenor House Pub.
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