An employer in Tennessee may legally conduct a drug test on any applicant or employee. Tennessee offers employers the option of enrolling in the drug-free workplace program which enables them to receive a discount on their workers’ compensation fees. If enrolled, the employer must create a testing policy in accordance with 0800-02-12-.04 and make it available to all applicants and employees. The employer will also be required to test applicants as a condition to the offer of employment.

Can Current Employees be Tested? Yes. If enrolled in the drug-free workplace program, the employer will be required to test employees when the following circumstances apply:

  1. The employee shows reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol use.
  2. Routine fitness-for-duty drug or alcohol testing.
  3. Follow-up drug or alcohol testing after rehabilitation program, unless the employee enters the program at their own will.
  4. Post-accident testing.
  5. The employee works in a safety-sensitive position (e.g. transportation).

Is Certified Testing RequiredNo. However, if the employer is enrolled in the drug free workplace program, certified testing is mandatory.

Laws – § 0800-02-12

What Can be Tested? Tissue, fluid, or other products of the body which, when tested, show evidence of drugs or alcohol.

How to Conduct a Legal Drug Test

The following instructions are meant to direct employers enrolled in the drug-free workplace program. All other private employers may execute the drug test as they see fit while keeping in mind the following:

  • The individual’s right to privacy
  • Discrimination against employees (e.g. only testing certain employees)
  • Disabilities requiring prescribed medications that would typically show up in a drug test
  • Discretion when an individual tests positive

Step 1 – The employer must first obtain the subject’s written consent (use the Drug Test Release Form). With permission granted, a sample may now be collected from the individual. Initial screening for drugs, excluding alcohol, must take place in a certified laboratory; the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMHSA) website has a complete list of certified laboratories. Alcohol testing must be conducted in accordance with § 40.211.

Step 2 – An individual who tests positive for alcohol must be tested again within fifteen (15) minutes but no longer than thirty (30) minutes after the initial screening. A positive test for drugs must be confirmed by a certified laboratory using chromatography/mass spectrometry procedures.

Step 3 – An applicant who tests positive a second time or refuses to be tested may not be hired. If an employee tests positive after a confirmation test, he/she may be subject to disciplinary action including termination if the individual does not wish to enroll in a rehabilitation program. The employee may provide an explanation or dispute the positive drug test within a five (5) day period.

Step 4 – If the employee enrolls in a rehabilitation program and tests positive once again, the individual may rightfully be terminated from employment.