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Davis Brown Employment and Labor Law Blog

Employment Law Blog: Substance Abuse Testing in Iowa - The Three Take-Aways - September 4, 2012

This post is the fifth post in a seven-part series. Check back each week for a new topic.

Iowa Code 730.5 is very specific to the State. Many employers think they need to substance abuse test or think that they can use a testing policy from another state when in fact, Iowa's law and requirements are unique. 


1. You do not have to test. There is no rule that would require that you test an employee. It is sufficient to believe that an employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or the employee has poor performance. That employee can be fired for the performance related issues. Whereas this might not win job service, it also does not entail the additional cost of drug or substance abuse testing.


2. Drugs and alcohol are treated very differently under the Iowa Statute. Since alcohol is a legal substance there are additional requirements in the statute relating to setting a minimum basis for what would be considered "under the influence of alcohol". Certain employers must provide rehabilitation for the employee if he or she is under the influence of alcohol while on the job. A positive test for illegal drugs allows the employer to terminate the employee so long as the employer has met all of the other requirements of Iowa law. 


3. Many employers, particularly healthcare facilities, or those that deal regularly and consistently with drug and alcohol problems think that blood testing is the best way to test for drug and alcohol abuse.  Unfortunately, under the Iowa Statute, you cannot use blood.  For most employers this means that urinalysis and breathalyzers for alcohol testing are the only realistic potential testing method.