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Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
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Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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During a pre employment drug screen (urine) is alcohol one

Customer Question

During a pre employment drug screen (urine) is alcohol one of the things they test for? I heard somewhere that according to the ADA act of 1990 they can not test for alcohol. My new job does not having anything to do with transportation or aircraft. I was just wondering if they could possibly pick up alcohol in urine 15 hour after drinking. A lot of wine- to celebrate.
Thanks in advance
Shelley
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 2 years ago.
The usual testing done for employment do not include testing for alcohol. The ADA does not prevent employers from testing for alcohol, but they do not because of practical considerations. The most commonly used urine test for alcohol actually looks for a metabolite of alcohol, ethyl glucuronide (EtG). The test for EtG is very sensitive and can detect alcohol use up to 80 hours after use. However, since employers cannot require persons to abstain from alcohol for days prior to work, employers do not typically perform this test. Also, there are many substances that contain trivial amounts of alcohol, but will still cause a positive test for EtG, which makes it impractical for screening in an employment situation. Therefore, the EtG is used in situations in which no alcohol can be used for several days before testing, which is not applicable in pre-employment situations.

Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 13213
Experience: Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
Dr. D. Love and 3 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So how long ddoes it take for you to get back results from a drug screen typically?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
What if they took blood? Would I have to sign a form that allowed them to have it tested or could they take a nd have it tested without my knowledge? Again this is all to check for alcohol in the bloodstream.
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 2 years ago.
I'm sorry for the delay, but I had gone to bed when there were no further questions after about an hour.

The length o time depends upon what test is done and the location. There are some employers, particularly those that process a larger number of employees, that may person the initial urine drug screen themselves, so would have the initial results within a couple hours. If the initial urine drug screen is sent to a reference lab, then there would need to be the time necessary for transport. If it is in the same city, the results could be later that day, but if in a more distant location, it could be a couple of days. If the initial urine drug screen is positive, then the usual next step is to perform a confirmatory test, such as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), which will always need to be sent to a specialized lab and the results will take several days to a week to return.

It is possible that a test for alcohol can be done on blood, or more commonly, on a breathalyser, but most employers do not do this routinely, although it may be done if there is suspicion that there is alcohol currently in your system. If they choose to do this, they would have to have your permission to draw blood and test it.

Expert:  Family Physician replied 2 years ago.
I would have to respectfully XXXXX XXXXX the other expert. There are indeed significant differences between tests for illegal drugs (and the illegal use of prescription drugs) and alcohol testing under the ADA.

Generally an employer CAN NOT perform alcohol tests which are considered "medical tests" under the ADA. There are certain employers who are required to perform drug AND alcohol tests (DOT regulated employers such as trucking companies).

Here are several references from the EEOC on the issue of alcohol tests
http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/guidance-inquiries
html http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/health_care_workers.html

Here is a reference to EEOC action taken against a large employer in regards XXXXX XXXXX alcohol testing
http://www.lexisnexis.com/community/labor-employment-law/blogs/lab-emp-alerts/archive/2011/06/15/employment-alert-eeoc-claims-u-s-steel-s-alcohol-testing-policy-violates-ada.aspx

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