Vermont Drug Testing Laws 2024

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Vermont Drug Testing Laws 2024

Vermont Statutes, Title 21, Chapter 5, Subchapter 11, provides specific regulations governing workplace drug testing practices in the state. This law authorizes employers to implement and enforce drug-free workplaces; however, they must adhere to certain guidelines. Generally, employers in Vermont cannot take adverse actions against employees solely for off-duty cannabis use unless they can prove that it directly impairs the employee’s job performance or poses a safety risk. Additionally, employers are not allowed to penalize employees for having cannabis metabolites in their system unless it significantly impairs job performance.

Vermont’s drug testing laws are designed to strike a balance between ensuring workplace safety and protecting employee’s rights. Cities, towns, and other municipalities do not have the authority to create their own ordinances regarding workplace drug testing in Vermont.

What Kinds of Drug Tests Can Employers Conduct in Vermont?

Under state law, employers in Vermont are allowed to test for alcohol, Schedule 1 drugs (as classified by the DEA), metabolites of these drugs, and any other drugs (or their metabolites) that can cause on-the-job impairment. Examples of these substances include heroin, cocaine, oxycodone, LSD, peyote, meth, fentanyl, MDMA, and cannabis.

When it comes to cannabis use, Vermont employers can conduct four kinds of drug tests to check for marijuana metabolites:

  • Probable Cause Testing: These tests are done in situations where the employer has probable cause to believe that the employee is under the influence of marijuana (or other drugs) on the job or is using drugs in the workplace
  • Probationary Testing: These tests are done on employees who have previously failed drug tests and referred to rehabilitation programs
  • Pre-employment Testing: These are typically done on job applicants who have been given conditional offers of employment
  • Post-accident Testing: These are done to confirm or rule out cannabis, alcohol, and any other drugs as the cause of a work-related accident

Employers are restricted from requesting or requiring blood samples for drug tests in Vermont, but urine, hair, and saliva samples may be used. However, if a urinalysis procedure is used for drug testing, employees can provide blood samples for an independent confirmatory test if there is a positive result. Note that the blood sample must be taken at the same time the urine sample is provided, and the employee will have to bear the cost of collecting and preserving the blood sample.

Can Employers Do Random Drug Testing in Vermont?

Title 21, Section 513 of the Vermont Statutes explicitly prohibits employers from conducting random or company-wide drug tests on employees unless it is required to comply with federal laws or regulations. This is usually the case for employees in federal agencies, individuals in safety or security-sensitive positions, and employers seeking federal contracts or grants. Employers permitted to perform random drug tests are expected to ensure that their testing protocols and procedures are fair, non-discriminatory, and comply with other applicable requirements of the state's drug testing law.

What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test in Vermont for a Job?

The consequences of failing a drug test in Vermont typically depend on the kind of drug testing that was done. For job applicants, failing a pre-employment drug test can result in the withdrawal of employment offers. For full or part-time employees, failing a drug test usually results in mandatory drug rehabilitation, suspension, or termination, depending on the nature of the job and the provisions of the employer's workplace drug policy.

Can I Be Fired for Refusing a Drug Test in Vermont?

Yes, you can be fired for refusing a drug test in Vermont. Employers are authorized to request or require employees to submit to drug tests under the following conditions:

  • There is probable cause for drug testing
  • The employer has made a copy of its workplace drug policy available for all employees being tested
  • The employer complies with other requirements of the state’s drug testing law

If an employer had previously provided you with a written copy of their workplace policy, and this policy lists job termination as a consequence of refusing drug tests, they may fire you for doing so. When employees are fired for refusing a drug test, they can only contest the decision if they can prove that the employer’s drug testing procedures violate Vermont’s drug testing law. It is best to consult an attorney for situations like these. They can help review the case details, evaluate the legality of the termination, and provide guidance on the appropriate actions to consider.

Can You Get Fired for Failing a Drug Test with a Medical Card in Vermont?

Vermont’s drug testing law does not explicitly protect medical cannabis card holders from workplace drug testing. Employers can only screen employees for non-therapeutic levels of cannabis/cannabinoids and must also have probable cause before conducting drug tests. Employees who fail drug tests must also be given the option of partaking in a drug rehab program and can only be fired if they fail a drug test after successfully completing the program. An employee may be suspended for no more than three months within the duration of the rehab program.

Can Employers Conduct Drug Tests on Applicants in Vermont?

Vermont drug testing law generally prohibits employers from requesting or requiring job applicants to submit to drug tests. Also, job applicants cannot be asked or made to directly or indirectly consent to any drug testing procedure prohibited in the state. Employers who violate this requirement face civil and criminal penalties of up to $2,000 in fines, jail time of up to six months, or both.

Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing Allowed in Vermont?

While Title 21, Section 512 of the Vermont Statutes prohibits employers from conducting pre-employment drug testing, exceptions are made for employers that meet the following conditions:

  • The employer has given the job applicant a conditional offer of employment that includes passing a drug test as an employment requisite
  • The employer notifies the job applicant in writing of their drug testing procedure. The notice should include a list of the drugs to be tested and a statement that therapeutic levels of medically prescribed drugs will not be reported in the test
  • The employer ensures that the drug testing is done in line with the requirements of the state’s drug testing law

Does Vermont Allow Public Agencies to Submit Employees to Workplace Drug Tests?

Yes, Vermont permits public agencies to conduct drug tests on their employees. However, as with private employers, public agencies must comply with the state's drug testing regulations. These include having probable cause for drug testing, ensuring the confidentiality of test results, and offering employees with positive results the opportunity for retesting and rehab. Random drug testing is generally prohibited in Vermont unless required by federal law.

Can Employers Choose to Create Drug-Free Workplace Policies?

Vermont’s drug testing law does not restrict employers from punishing employees for using non-prescribed drugs at the workplace or those who fall under the influence of drugs during work hours. However, any drug testing procedure implemented as part of an employer's drug-free workplace policy must adhere to state regulations. These include restricting test specimens to urine, hair, or saliva, providing employees who fail drug tests an option for rehab, and only firing them if they fail subsequent drug tests after completing the rehab program.

Any Vermont employer who wishes to implement a workplace drug testing policy must meet the following requirements:

  • Provide employees with a written copy of their workplace policy that includes the testing procedure, the scope of drugs to be screened, and circumstances requiring drug testing. The policy should also clearly state the consequences of a positive test result
  • Have probable cause for drug testing any employee
  • Have a bona fide drug or alcohol rehab program available for employees being tested
  • Check for only non-therapeutic levels of screened drugs (or alcohol)
  • Use state-approved testing labs
  • Contract or employ a Medical Review Officer (MRO) to review and evaluate all test results. The MRO must be a licensed physician knowledgeable on the medical use of prescription drugs as well as the pharmacology and toxicology of illicit drugs

Employees Exempted From Vermont Workplace Drug Testing Laws

Title 21, Section 513(b) of the Vermont Statutes explicitly exempts individuals who must comply with federal drug testing laws and regulations from the state's prohibition on random or company-wide drug testing. These include:

  • Commercial transport workers
  • Vermont-based employers looking to get federal contracts or grants
  • Employees of safety or security-sensitive organizations like the Department of Defense and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

What are the Requirements for Drug Testing Labs in Vermont?

Workplace drug tests in Vermont must be conducted using a lab approved by the state's Department of Health. Drug testing lab approval is typically issued to labs with documentary evidence to prove the competency of their personnel, test methods, and quality assurance programs. Approved drug testing labs in Vermont are also expected to comply with the provisions of the state's drug testing law regarding confirming, reporting, and releasing drug test information.

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