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Oklahoma Revises Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Act Standards to be More Employer-Friendly

  • November 4, 2011

Oklahoma has substantially revised its Standards For Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Act, Okla. Stat. Ann. §§ 551 – 563, effective November 1, 2011.   The law has been simplified and eliminates a number of requirements previously imposed on employers. 
Highlights of the revisions include:

  • Testing of independent contractors under the terms of a company policy if provided for in the contractor’s written agreement and provided the “policy applies to other workers at the job site or workers who are in the same or similar classification or group”.
  • Significant reductions in written employee drug and alcohol testing policy requirements, including:
    • Removing the requirement to cover certain subjects in the policy and permitting employers to include them; and
    • Removing the requirement that the employer identify specifically the substances for which it may test.
  • A reduction to 10 days (from 30 days) the notice period required before implementing a new or revised written policy for employees and authorization to post the policy on the employer’s website or intranet to meet the notice requirements.
  • Replacement of the “reasonable suspicion” testing with “for cause” testing based upon a “reasonable belief” standard for employers.
  • Strengthening the refusal to test provisions of the Act to bar eligibility for unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits to employees who do not submit to testing as required.
  • Express approval for the use of breathalyzers and “onsite or quick testing device[s]” as part of an employer policy.
  • Elimination of the requirement to have an in-house or employer-contracted employee assistance program (“EAP”) in order to conduct drug or alcohol testing.
  • Reducing to one year (from two years) the statute of limitations for civil suits alleging willful violations of the Act, with new language:
    • Requiring a complaining party to prove “the employer had a specific intent to violate the act” in order to prevail, and
    • Awarding a prevailing defendant reasonable costs and attorney fees.
  • Repeal of possible criminal sanctions for violations of the Act.

If you should have any questions, or if you require assistance with your drug and alcohol testing program, please contact a member of our Drug Testing and Substance Abuse Management practice.

©2011 Jackson Lewis P.C. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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