Drug testing has become prevalent in the workplace due to some states legalizing the use of marijuana. The federal government, therefore, estimated that if all workers between the ages of 18 and 40 were subjected to drug tests, 25% of the results would be positive. In light of such statistics, it is no wonder that employers are worried about the sobriety of employees joining their workforce. Some jobs require drug screening more than others. So, if you are wondering if Whole Foods drug tests all its employees, here is a detailed response to your question.
It Depends on Your Job Description
According to Felony Friendly Jobs, Whole Foods does not require job applicants or employees to undergo drug screening unless it is necessary. Usually, the type of job you hold determines if Whole Foods will demand that you undergo a drug test. For instance, those assigned to safety-sensitive jobs will have to take a drug test. No potential employee will be required to have a pre-employment drug test as a condition for hiring. Unfortunately, this is at the discretion of each particular store; Whole Foods in California and Mountain View are known for conducting pre-employment drug test screening for potential employees. Since the tests are mainly for safety-sensitive jobs, you can expect to take one if you will be operating heavy machinery or anything with large moving parts. If anyone operating such machinery is involved in an accident, Whole Foods will conduct a random test on all other employees holding similar jobs to avoid liability. The drug tests are not just to ensure that machinery is operated by sober minds; if you plan on climbing the ladder, Whole Foods has to be cautious. Only those who are not under the influence of drugs are eligible to hold managerial positions to facilitate making sound decisions.
Most Common Drug Tests
According to NCES.com, Whole Foods will not conduct any drug tests unless you give them a reason to suspect you. The most common drug tests conducted are urine tests for amphetamines, marijuana, PCP (angel dust), cocaine, and opiates metabolites. As per the article, the store conducts urine drug tests and urine drug screening. Although the terms are used interchangeably, they refer to different types of tests. The upside of using drug tests is that the urine indicates the presence of all the substances that Whole Foods tests for, making it a more reliable approach. A drug test is more accurate in terms of providing an analysis of what substance an individual has been using. Drug tests produce positive results only the presence of the substance being tested for is above a certain threshold. Such tests are costly; thus, only major corporations prefer them. Drug screening, on the other hand, is a quick scan of cellular tissues and bodily fluids. It is, therefore, more cost-effective, and results are obtained much faster. It has the downside of producing false positives because it scans for the presence of drugs. If Whole Foods get positive results from your urine sample, you can be dismissed with immediate effect. However, you must consent in writing to pre-employment drug testing. Once hired, you agree to the terms and conditions that dictate Whole Foods can conduct a test whenever they feel it is necessary. For this reason, they do not need additional consent.
Consequences to Employers Who Conduct Drug Tests
Although dismissing employees found to be using drugs is usually the main objective of any corporation that subjects workers to such drug testing, it is sometimes not the best way to go about it. In September 2021, NBC News published that Amazon had relaxed its screening process for marijuana. The human resources head at Amazon explained that the move was to reinstate employment eligibility for former employees fired for failing their drug tests. Amazon had announced in June 2021 that it would only be doing pre-unemployment drug testing for applicants seeking jobs regulated by the Department of Transportation. Once employed, employees are also subject to drug testing after any incident prompts one. Since Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017, it is safe to assume that the grocery store will also follow the policies laid down by its parent company.
However, Amazon did not change its mind for the sake of the economy or to be an equal-opporunity employer as it claimed. It was more about saving face because of the lawsuits it was facing following claims of pre-employment drug testing. The New York Human Rights Laws prohibit pre-employment marijuana testing except for employees who are tasked with operating heavy machinery. Amazon disregarded this law and went ahead to conduct a drug test for a job applicant seeking to be a package sorter. Consequently, the candidate sued Amazon after failing to get the job due to the results of the tests; over 100 applicants also tested positive, and the e-commerce giant refused to hire them. Additionally, Amazon was under pressure from the New York Attorney General. The Attorney General sued Amazon for unlawfully dismissing employees who spoke against the safety conditions of the workplace during the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides ruined reputations, employers also face the risk of digging deeper into their reserves to pay for the lawsuits. Two plaintiffs were forced to take on-demand drug tests after their employer revised the handbook containing the drug test policy. The two plaintiffs had not been suspected of any drug use; hence, there was no need for the drug test. They finally decided to sue the employer for emotional distress caused by the intimidation, and the trial court judge awarded each $15,000. Although the employer appealed, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judge’s ruling. Therefore, with such precedence already set, Whole Foods and other employers should always seek grounds for conducting random drug tests and ensure they are not going against any laws.