Drug Testing Rule for UI Programs Reversed

"The Department of Labor supports the president's nullification and looks forward to examining additional flexibilities for states relative to the drug testing of persons seeking unemployment benefits," said Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Ed Hugler.

President Donald J. Trump nullified a drug testing rule on March 31. He signed legislation to nullify a U.S. Department of Labor 2016 rule that narrowly limited the circumstances under which drug testing may be carried out by states in administering their unemployment insurance programs.

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) rule was based on a 2012 law and, according to a DOL release about the nullification, "The rule contradicted clear congressional intent – it narrowly limited the circumstances under which drug testing may be carried out and constrained a state's ability to conduct a drug testing program under the act."

"The Department of Labor supports the president's nullification and looks forward to examining additional flexibilities for states relative to the drug testing of persons seeking unemployment benefits," said Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Ed Hugler.

The rule amended the Social Security Act by adding a new subsection permitting states to drug test unemployment compensation applicants as a condition of eligibility and deny jobless benefits for failing the test, under these two specific circumstances:

  • If they were terminated from employment with their most recent employer because of the unlawful use of a controlled substance.
  • If the only available suitable work for an individual was in an occupation that regularly conducted drug testing.

ETA had issued a final rule spelling out the occupations that regularly conduct drug testing, and this became effective Sept. 30, 2016.

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