Workplace Drug Testing: Review of Psychological, Financial and Legal Implications

Workplace Drug Testing: Review of Psychological, Financial and Legal Implications

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     Human resource practitioners and I/O psychologists have at their disposal a host of personnel assessment techniques. For example, traditional predictive measures used to screen job applicants have included the use of application blanks, job interviews and psychometric measures of personality and cognitive ability. For the most part these instruments attempt to predict an applicant's potential for success by estimating her current level of functioning on some psychological construct that is believed to be related to job performance. Recently, however, personnel professionals have added a unique assessment technique to their arsenal. Unlike traditional predictive measures of job performance- mental and motor functioning and personality attributes- drug testing attempts to evaluate candidates by chemically screening their urine for mind-altering substances. By collecting urine samples from job applicants and performing chemical tests on them, employers are able tell whether or not these individuals have illegal substances in their blood streams (Muchinsky, 1997). While a negative result on a drug test certainly does not predict a high level of job performance, those applicants who test positive for drugs are generally viewed as less than desirable. Such tests have been shown to be highly reliably; more reliable in fact than most traditional measures used by psychologists. The validity of such measures, however, has been questioned. The issue of drug test validity will be discussed later in this review. The use of drug screening procedures is not limited to job applicants; and it is not uncommon for organizations to regularly test their current employees for the use of illegal substances. Much of the rese...

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Muchinsky, P.M. (1997). Psychology Applied to Work (5th ed.) Pacific Grove, California: Brooks/Cole.


Normand, J., Salyards, S.D. & Mahoney, J.J. (1990).An Evaluation of Preemployment Drug Testing. Journal of Applied Psychology, 75, 629-639.


Sheppard, B.H., Lewicki, R.J. & Minton, J.W. (1992). Organizational Justice: The Search for Fairness in the Workplace. New York: Lexington Books.


Stone, D.L & Kotch, D.A. (1989). Individuals' Attitudes Toward Organizational Drug Testing Policies and Practices. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74, 518-521.


Susser, P.A. (1985). Legal Issues Raised by Drugs in the Workplace. Labor Law Journal, 36, 42-54.


Tepper, B.J. (1994). Investigation of General and Program specific Attitudes Toward Corporate Drug Testing Policies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, 392-401.


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