Tennessee Drug Testing Laws


These days, many employers test employees and job applicants for drugs. If you are asked to submit to a drug test, you should know your legal rights.

There are a few safety-sensitive industries that the government requires testing by employers – i.e., contractors with NASA and the Department of Defense – federal law generally does not require or prohibit drug testing.

Tennessee, along with numerous other states, has a drug-free workplace program in place that regulates how employers conduct drug testing. Employers who follow the program may qualify for a discount on their workers' compensation insurance premiums, providing employers follow the state's rules.

In order for an employer to receive a discount on their workers' compensation premiums, the employer must have their employees submit to drug tests under certain circumstances.

Qualifying for a Drug-Free Workplace

In order for Tennessee employers to qualify for having a drug-free workplace, they must test applicants who receive a conditional offer of employment. Further, limited testing is allowed when it is conducted on applicants whose jobs may require potentially dangerous activities, such as operating heavy machinery, or driving large trucks.

When an employer requires drug testing, they must provide notice of the drug testing in its job ads and postings.

Which employees get tested?

In order for a Tennessee employer to qualify for a drug-free workplace, the employer must test:

  • After a workplace accident
  • Employees who are in safety-sensitive positions
  • If required by the employer's policy, as a routine fitness-for-duty medical exam
  • As a follow up to a rehabilitation program

As an employee, you do have the right to contest or explain positive results within five days. You cannot be disciplined, fired, or discriminated against if you voluntarily seek treatment for substance abuse, unless you have previously tested positive, or have already been enrolled in a substance abuse program.

Do I have a legal claim?

While Tennessee laws allow employers to drug test their employees, an employee or job applicant may have a legal claim if the test was not conducted correctly. For example, if an employee or applicant was taking medication for a disability such as an opiate, the employee or applicant cannot be turned down because of a positive drug test in this instance, providing the medication was legally prescribed for the disability.

Other scenarios where you may have a claim:

  • The employer violated state laws or regulations
  • Disability discrimination
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Defamation of character
  • Age, race, or gender discrimination

Do you think you might have a claim? Contact an attorney from The Bowlin Law Firm. We represent clients throughout Morristown and Hamblen County. Call (423) 571-2667 to schedule a free case evaluation.