SACRAMENTO — Declaring employee drug testing to be "too important and sensitive an issue to leave to self-regulation," a Bay Area legislator introduced a bill Wednesday that would require employers to confirm positive drug test results with a state-licensed laboratory before taking action against a worker or job applicant.
Gov. George Deukmejian vetoed a similar bill last year, but the author, Assemblyman Johan Klehs (D-San Leandro), said he thinks he has met the governor's objections in the revised version.
The Department of Health Services would develop regulations for licensing laboratories that conduct drug-abuse tests of blood and urine.
In addition to protecting employees, the legislation is aimed at protecting employers from suits by workers who, as a result of laboratory error, falsely test positive for drugs. At some labs, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control, the error rate has exceeded 66%.
"This measure will allow both employers and employees to be confident of the results of drug tests," Klehs said. "Ensuring the fairness and accuracy of these tests will prevent the false branding of innocent employees as drug users and unwarranted firings of valuable workers.
If the bill clears the Legislature and is signed by the governor, an employee or job applicant who tests positive would have the right to be retested, and test results would be kept confidential.
Employers would continue to have the legal right to fire workers for inability to do the job.