Iowa Drug Testing Laws 2024

  1. Iowa Cannabis
  2. Iowa Marijuana Laws
  3. Iowa Drug Testing Laws

Iowa Drug Testing Laws 2024

Iowa legalized medical cannabis in 2018, allowing registered patients to consume cannabis for medical purposes. However, no provision of its Medical Cannabidiol Act protects cannabis users from the consequences of failing employers' drug tests. The state’s drug testing laws are outlined in the Iowa Drug-Free Workplace Law. Under this law, medical marijuana users may face employee termination or suspension for off-duty cannabis use if they fail drug tests.

Passed in 1987, the Iowa Drug-Free Workplace law outlines procedures for private employers interested in creating workplace drug testing policies. Drug testing policies should contain information regarding substances screened for, consequences for failing or refusing drug tests, and samples required to conduct such tests. Before conducting drug tests, employers must provide employees and job applicants with copies of their drug testing policies.

Iowa's drug testing law was amended in 2017 after the governor signed Senate File 32 to allow employers to conduct hair follicle drug tests during pre-employment. In 2021, House File 283 was approved, criminalizing the use of synthetic urine or urine additives to manipulate drug test results. Cities and counties in Iowa also have workplace drug-free regulations, which may align with the state law.

What Kinds of Drug Tests Can Employers Conduct in Iowa?

Employers' drug testing policies in Iowa often screen for controlled substances and their metabolites. Such substances include cocaine, amphetamines, heroin, benzodiazepines, codeine, phencyclidine, and cannabis. Employers can collect urine, blood, saliva, and hair samples to conduct drug tests under the following conditions:

  • Unannounced or random testing of employees in select job positions
  • Post-rehabilitation drug testing
  • Reasonable suspicion testing
  • Pre-employment drug testing of prospective workers
  • Post-accident drug testing for work-related accidents leading to damages, losses, or injuries exceeding $1,000
  • Federally-required drug testing conducted by organizations that receive federal grants or contracts

Can Employers Do Random Drug Testing in Iowa?

Yes. According to Iowa law, employers can conduct random drug testing periodically without prior notice to employees. Also known as unannounced drug testing, random drug testing must be in an employer's drug-free workplace program before they can implement it. Employers must ensure that random drug screenings align with the state's drug testing laws to avoid perceived discrimination against any employee. To maintain fairness, employers must create employee pools based on various criteria, such as departments, shifts, or job roles. Afterward, a computer program will randomly select employees for drug tests. The program must log every selection with date, time, and employee ID.

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

Employees who fail drug tests in Iowa must be given the opportunity to request retests within seven days. After confirmation of positive results, they may face penalties such as suspension, termination from their job, or probation under stringent terms. Some workplaces may offer employee awareness programs to support workers dealing with substance abuse issues. These programs provide guidance, counseling, or resources to help employees address their substance-related problems. Participating in these programs can help reduce the chances of job termination.

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

Refusing to submit to workplace drug tests in Iowa may lead to job termination, depending on the employer's drug policy. Employees have several options to contest job termination resulting from refusal to submit to workplace drug tests, including the following:

  • Discussing the situation with HR or management to clarify any misunderstandings or to present your reasons for the refusal
  • Consulting a legal professional or attorney knowledgeable in employment law. Employment lawyers can help employees file lawsuits if the termination violates state laws
  • Reviewing the company's policies and employment agreements to understand the terms and conditions regarding drug testing and refusal.
  • Reporting any wrongful termination to state or federal agencies such as the Iowa Division of Labor or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

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

Iowa's medical cannabis law does not offer workplace protections for registered medical marijuana patients. This means employers can establish drug-free policies that forbid employees, including medical marijuana cardholders, from using marijuana in the workplace. Consequently, employees with state-issued medical marijuana cards may face disciplinary actions, including termination, for failing cannabis drug tests. Employers may also refuse to hire medical marijuana cardholders, provided it is in their drug-free policies.

Can Employers Conduct Drug Tests on Applicants in Iowa?

Yes, in Iowa, employers can conduct drug tests on prospective employees during the interview stage. Before carrying out these tests, employers must have written drug testing policies that applicants can access and review. Samples usually requested during pre-employment drug tests in Iowa include blood, hair, saliva, or urine. Employers reserve the right to refuse to hire job applicants who fail these drug tests.

Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing Allowed in Iowa?

Yes. Applicants who receive conditional employment offers in Iowa may be required to undergo drug tests before formally commencing work. However, this condition must be explicitly outlined in employers' policies or communicated clearly to job applicants during the hiring process. Note that Iowa pre-employment drug testing laws may differ by employer.

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

Yes. Iowa drug testing laws apply to private and public employers. This means that public agencies are not restricted from creating drug-free regulations similar to state or federal laws. Individuals in safety-sensitive positions may be subjected to further drug tests from state or federal agencies. For instance, commercial truck drivers in Iowa must complete specific drug tests as part of the Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines.

Can Employers Choose to Create Drug-Free Workplace Policies?

Iowa does not mandate or restrict employers from creating drug-free workplace policies. Employers with drug testing policies must ensure that the provisions of such policies align with the state's guidelines, which include the following:

  • They must have written copies of drug-free workplace policies available for employees or job applicants to review
  • They should announce drug tests in job postings or during the hiring process
  • They should obtain written consent from employees or job applicants regarding drug testing procedures
  • They must maintain the confidentiality and privacy of drug test results
  • They should offer information and resources, such as employee assistance programs, to support workers dealing with substance abuse problems
  • They should conduct drug tests fairly and without bias, using neutral and objective selection processes during random testing
  • They should keep records of drug testing procedures
  • The personnel supervisors must receive annual two-hour training regarding drug testing processes

Employees Exempted From Iowa Workplace Drug Testing Laws

Federal employees in Iowa are exempted from the state drug-free workplace law. Federal agencies such as the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Defense (DOD) have specific drug testing programs that employees must comply with. Also, Iowa employers receiving federal grants or contracts are not required to comply with the state's drug testing regulations.

What are the Requirements for Drug Testing Labs in Iowa?

Employers in Iowa must carry out workplace confirmation drug tests in laboratories that have the following requirements:

  1. Licensed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services
  2. Licensed medical review officers responsible for reviewing and interpreting drug tests for employers
  3. Laboratories must comply with the state regulations on sample collection, transportation, and storage
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