Management Tips! Reasonable Suspicion for Drugs/Alcohol

Blog Post created by 1016243 on Sep 11, 2017

This is the another article of CAI's new Management Tips series. Our goal is to provide you with bite-size information that will help your front line supervisors become more effective in their roles. We encourage you to forward this information to your supervisors and managers. We will be publishing Management Tips several times per month and we look forward to any feedback that you may have. Thank you!


Most companies include reasonable suspicion testing in the drug testing policy.  Reasonable suspicion testing allows the employer to send the employee for drug testing in instances where there is reason to believe that the employee may be using or under the influence drugs or alcohol while at work. In order to maintain a safe and drug free environment, it is important for managers and supervisors to understand their role in identifying and reporting suspicious activities related to drug and alcohol use. 


 Non-regulated employers can develop their own definition and testing guidelines for reasonable suspicion testing, however you must always check any specific Department of Labor or state specific compliance laws when developing your Drug Testing Policy. 


The following examples are situations that may well indicate probable cause for reasonable suspicion testing:


  • Odor of alcohol on the body or breath
  • Slurred speech
  • Unsteady standing or walking
  • Inability or difficulty completing routine tasks
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Erratic or unusual behavior
  • Evidence that the employee has used, possessed, sold, solicited or transferred drugs while at work


Other best practices to consider if you believe an employee may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol:

  • Review your company's Drug Testing Policy for specific guidelines on who and when to test, how to document the reasonable suspicion activity and what actions will be taken.
  • Evaluate signs and symptoms and document (check with your employer on their preferred form of documentation-some employers have pre-made forms specific to their drug testing policy)
  • It is strongly encouraged that at least two (2) supervisory personnel concur that there is reasonable suspicion for a drug test. This protects both the supervisor and the employee.
  • Drug and alcohol testing should be done promptly after removing the employee from duty. If the drug or alcohol test is not collected on-site, contact a collection site to schedule the test.
  • The employee under suspicion should not be allowed to drive themselves to the collection site (or elsewhere) without a negative drug test result.


*Employers that are subject to federally regulated drug testing should follow the model agency that governs their workforce (DOT, etc). 


Contact a member of the Advice & Resolution team if you have questions specific to Drug Testing.  



A&R Insight: Reasonable Suspicion Testing 

Drug Testing in North Carolina