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Drug Testing in the Workplace.

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Drug Testing in the Workplace The first thought that comes to mind when one think of drug testing is the illegal use of substances to enhance performance in athletes, such as the case of Ben Johnson during the 1988 Seoul Olympics. However, drug testing is not only used to check if athletes are using drugs to enhance their performance but also, drug testing is used to determine impaired workers in the workplace. The controversial issue on whether drug testing should occur in the work place is one that started in the eighties and has yet to be completely resolved. For instance in 1986 President Ronald Reagan issued an order to direct all federal agencies to introduce programs to achieve a drug free workplace throughout the US federal government (Canadian Bar 7). Two years later President George Bush announced a National Drug Control Strategy to defeat the so-called "war on drugs", which included targeting illegal drug use among all workers (Heller & Robinson 51). Canada on the other hand is vulnerable to proposals made by their neighbours to the south due to the fact that American parent companies make up a significant factor of the economy. Nonetheless, drug testing in Canada became apparent in industries such as, Transport Canada and the Canadian Forces. ...read more.


Also, employers can argue that drug use is an illegal activity that threatens others and in that sense poses a threat of harm (Desjardins & Duska 238). This justification is inadequate because illegal activity does not reflect the ability to perform tasks at the required level and thus is irrelevant to employers (Desjardins & Duska 238). The employers by no means have a claim to know about all illegal activity on part of their employees because it is unrelated on the employee's ability to do the job. This justification for drug testing fails since it does not affect the employer or any individual's safety. The health and safety rationale for drug testing prevails as the most convincing argument for drug testing in the workplace. Although the protection of employees health and safety is the most convincing argument for drug testing in the workplace there are challenges to drug testing all together. Rowan indicates in his article that first employees are persons, and second persons are morally significant - something that makes it wrong to treat them in certain ways(356). With this in mind, those who oppose drug testing in the workplace would likely argue that it violates an employees right to privacy. ...read more.


Although, United States and Canada have implemented legislations within the public sector the private sector is still to be disputed. Nevertheless, what has been implemented within government institutions gives one an understanding on what is considered justified when testing for drugs. The most prominent and convincing argument for drug testing is the prevention of harm and assurance of safety within the workplace. Employers have a moral duty to provide their employees with a safe working environment, due to the fact that the employees right to safety is held against the employer. Thus, this argument for drug testing is the most valid since job performance and detection for illegal drugs do not justify drug testing, but instead provide justifications that are irrelevant to the situation. Although employees have a right to a safe working environment some privacy rights will be undermined. Privacy rights may be devalued due to drug testing, however, employers can ensure that employees still do have rights by minimizing any room for abuse that may occur due to the employer. Nonetheless, drug testing is not only a prevalent issue in athletics but also in the workplace. However, it is now unquestionable that the most convincing justification for drug testing by employers is to prevent harm and provide a safe environment, and unfortunately privacy rights will come secondary under those circumstances. ...read more.

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