Employee Using Drugs? 3 Steps Recommended by an Employment Attorney

Employment Attorney Dallas TXIf you believe an employee is using drugs in your Dallas TX workplace, your first step should be to remain calm and consult your employment attorney. Drug abuse is not only damaging to the user but also to the people and environment surrounding them. This can directly affect your workplace and other employees, so it is important to follow the correct steps before making accusations. Using these 3 steps and the help of your attorney, you can address any issues when you suspect an employee is using drugs.

Consult Policies

While a written policy is not generally required in Texas or under federal law (absent specific industries and exceptions), it is best if your business has a written policy regarding drug and alcohol use. Not only is it required if you intend to challenge unemployment compensation in the event you must terminate an employee for drug and/or alcohol abuse, it is helpful in other ways.  The policy should have been read and signed by the employee at the time of hire. The policy should permit drug and alcohol testing if there is reasonable suspicion, for certain events, and randomly.


Drug test results should always be kept in an employee’s separate medical file, not the employee’s personnel file.  You should also keep documented evidence in an employee’s personnel file if another coworker has written up a complaint on the employee or complained that they may be under the influence.  The documents will protect you, your business, and other employees if there is an accident related to the drug and alcohol use and if you took adequate steps to investigate the complaint or concern.

You should also observe the employee at different times of the workday for signs of being under the influence. Be sure to document these signs, as well. Pay attention to the following signs that an employee may be under the influence:

  • Foul Odors
  • Slurred Speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty Walking/Standing/Working
  • Agitation/Aggression/Irritability
  • Dilated or Constricted Eye Pupils

After the Tests

After the employee has undergone the drug/alcohol testing, you should act on the results quickly. If the results were negative, the employee should go back to work. However, if the tests were positive, you will need to make a decision on how to handle the situation.

If you feel the employee is a good worker, offer them counseling designed to prevent or treat an addiction. Keep in mind, though, that that might implicate the Americans with Disabilities Act.  An employment attorney can provide you advice.

It is important to note that you have full legal right to terminate the employee immediately after failing one drug test. This is a decision that you will need to make, but you should act fast to ensure there is no lingering problem in your workplace.

If your business does not have a drug testing policy in place, consider designing and implementing one immediately. Contact an employment attorney in Dallas TX from Simon | Paschal at (972) 893-9340.

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