If a company is a “drug-free” workplace, presumably they have a pre-employment drug test. But if they hire you as a contractor first, will the same rules apply? This is not a public safety job or anything along those lines. Do HR departments generally have you take a drug test before you are offered “permanent” employment? Also, one of Virginia’s unemployment questions asks if you were denied a job due to a failed drug test.


According to Ellen Duncan, vice president of human resources for Meso Scale Diagnostics who has spent her career in human resources, a “drug-free” workplace and a “drug-screening” policy are not one in the same. The drug-screening policies and how they are administered are unique to each employer, with one exception: Prescreening applicants (except for safety and DOT-related jobs) is generally not permissible as an applicant screening tool (e.g. it is illegal in many places). Once an offer has been extended, whether for contract or regular employment, screening is permissible and most employers do it for both.

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Laura K. Nickle can be reached at sundayjobs@washpost.com.

This special advertising section was produced by The Washington Post Custom Content department and did not involve The Washington Post news or editorial staff. This article was written by Laura K. Nickle of Communi-k, Inc., hired by The Washington Post Custom Content department.