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Study Finds Workplace Drug Testing Tied to Racial Differences

Update Date: Sep 26, 2013 02:17 PM EDT

The drug testing policy exists so that employers can determine if drugs might be an issue for a potential employee. Since drugs and drug addictions can impair one's ability to work and function, some people might argue that drug tests are useful. Even though drug tests can deter drug use, a new study is reporting that drug testing might be tied to racial differences. According to the study, companies that employ more racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to incorporate drug testing.

For this study, the researchers from the Yale School of Medicine examined the data compiled from a recent federal government survey. They looked at about 70,000 responses from employees regarding drug testing in their work places. The data encompassed part-time and full-time workers from white, black or Hispanic race and ethnicity. The workers were in either "white collar" jobs, which included executive, administrative and managerial positions or "blue collar" jobs, which were jobs related to craft and transportation. All of the employees were older than 18-years-old.

From the data, 71 percent of the employees stated that they worked in large companies, which are companies that employ over 100 people. The researchers discovered that 48.2 percent of employees interviewed were from a workplace that did drug testing. Around half of that percentage involved employees between the ages of 18 and 25. When it came to the type of career, 54 percent of "blue collar" workers were from a workplace that performed drug testing whereas 44 percent of "white collar" workers were from a workplace that had drug testing. In terms of race, 63 percent of black employees worked for a company that used drug testing. Only 46 percent of white employees worked in a workplace with drug testing.

The researchers concluded that being black was linked to an increased chance of drug testing in a workforce when it came to both white and blue collar jobs. For Hispanic workers, an increased in the likelihood of working for a company that did drug testing was seen in blue collar positions.

"The results obtained from workplace drug testing may have major health-related consequences for employees, so an equitable testing system is critical to avoid burdening vulnerable employees with a disproportionate share of the risk," commented the first author, William Becker MD, reported by Medical Xpress. Becker is an assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine.

The study was published in the American Journal on Addictions.

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