Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I was illegally drug tested, why not my employer?

And members of congress too!

Corporations use blanket drug-testing as one of many ways to wean out their older and higher-paid workers when building a termination case against them, and by doing so without having to pay them unemployment benefits. I personally went through this humiliating experience at a large and very famous casino in Las Vegas.

The casinos prefer younger and more "attractive" people in their frontline positions such as bartenders and cocktail waitresses - - - it's an "image" thing. That's why most of these workers belong to a union, so they won't be discriminated against for age, and can have some modem of job security and seniority when bidding for better shifts when there are job openings as they get older.

But to skirt the law for random drug testing, casinos (corporations) use "reasonable suspicion" as an excuse for drug testing. They hope to catch these older workers in their net with either alcohol, illegal drugs (including marijuana), or even a slight over-use in a dose of their own prescription medications in a drug test.

The casinos even pay cash bonuses to department head managers at the end of the year for firing employees "reducing the payroll" if they don't also have to payout unemployment benefits (sort of like when a CEO receives stock-options as compensation for "performance" for layoffs, outsourcing, and reducing payroll costs. It's all about profits).

Most of these older workers that they tend "terminate" also have 4 weeks of paid vacation because they've worked there for so long, and is another plus for firing them to replace them with much younger workers with no vacation time and the minimum starting wage.

Another way these corporations skirt the age discrimination law (which is part of the Civil Rights Act) is to use bona fide occupational qualifications when hiring younger people over older (usually when hiring younger and more "attractive" cocktail waitresses).

In 2005 I had been bartending at a hotel and casino's lounge on a Friday night. The band was playing and it was very busy. Suddenly two security guards burst in behind the bar and told me, "Come with us...now! We're taking you for a drug test."

I hadn't even had a beer or taken an aspirin one month prior to my drug test, but for some unknown reason I was pulled off my bar by two security guards in the middle of my shift, asked for my company ID badge, and escorted off the premises to be taken for a drug test.

They drove me to a clinic and waited with me for two hours, then drove me back to the employee parking lot to retrieve my car. I had been suspended from work until the results of my drug test came back.

I had 4 weeks of paid vacation at that time and was 50 years old. At another property the casino owned, they had fired ten bartenders in one night for other various weak allegations (one got his job back, but without back pay).

My drug test had come back "negative" only 3 days later, but I wasn't informed until 6 weeks later when the bar manager terminated me over the telephone...but not for drug use, but for "rude behavior towards a fellow co-worker".


I applied for unemployment benefits immediately, but the company where I worked for 14 long years had denied me UI benefits, so I was forced to submit an appeal.

Needless to say, the State of Nevada had sided with me and granted me unemployment benefits for 6 months. But this just goes to show how far a corporation will go to save a buck, no matter what devastation and harm it does to its "loyal" employees.

I had later heard that the assistant bar manager who had me drug-tested was also forced to resign for unknown reasons. I and others had always suspected that it was HER who was under the influence of drugs because of her anorexia and erratic behavior, but we'll never know.

I filed a claim against the casino with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission but I never followed up, and just went on with my life and found another job. If I could have found a lawyer to file a wrongful termination lawsuit, I would have --- but lawyers hate taking these types of claims unless the case is very easy and air tight. (I'd call them lazy.)

I eventually returned to my old place of employment to visit and to explain to my ex-co-workers what really happened. There's no explaining the feeling of the humiliation and shame of being escorted off your job for a drug test, or the outrage I felt for the tactics the company used against me. I felt totally betrayed by my ex-employer.

Of course, THEY will tell you I was just another "disgruntled employee"...but don't they ALWAYS say that? Now we have nearly 25% unemployment in Fabulous Sin City.

In the fall of 2008 I was laid off from my new job during the Great Recession because I didn't have enough in-house seniority there, and I have been unemployed ever since. Had I not been illegally drug-tested and wrongfully terminated from my other job, I would most likely still be working there today, and might have until I was old enough to retire (The company shortly sold that particular casino after I was already gone.)

I would make these CEOs and congressional lawmakers subjugated to the same embarrassment and harassment that American workers have to go through (including welfare and UI recipients).. Make them explain to their co-workers, family, and friends that they're not drug addicts!

There's a new bill in congress to test for drugs for welfare applicants who "miss meetings" which they claim will arouse "reasonable suspicion" -- but lawmakers who are absent and "miss votes" won't be included in these illegal drug tests.

The Republicans want the unemployed to test for drugs and work for free, but I would suggest that their highly irrational behavior would also be cause for "reasonable suspicion", and we should also make congress and CEOs eligible for drug testing too.

It's ridiculous when people are now being fired for working and for "stealing" 20 cents. Drug test their bosses!

Republican lawmakers in more than 30 states in the past year have considered legislation to require drug tests for welfare recipients, and several have also targeted unemployment claimants too. But last year a federal judge, citing the Constitution's ban on unreasonable search and seizure, struck down a law that required blanket drug testing of everyone who applied for welfare.

Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), a Republican member of the Indiana General Assembly, recently withdrew his bill to create a pilot program for drug testing welfare applicants after one of his Democratic colleagues amended the measure to require drug testing for lawmakers.

The Supreme Court had ruled that drug testing for political candidates was unconstitutional in 1997. Lawmakers had been previously mistaken to think that testing the legislature would be unconstitutional, since the stricken law targeted "candidates" and not people already holding office (because they also receive "government funds" for their salaries.)

Democrats in several states have countered with bills to require drug testing elected officials. Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend) recently introduced just such an amendment.. "If we're going to impose standards on drug testing, then it should apply to everybody who receives government money."

McMillan, for his part, said he's coming back with a new bill to include lawmakers for testing included. He said he has no problem submitting to a test himself. "I would think legislators that are here who are responsible for the people who voted them in, they should be more than happy to consent," he said. "Give me the cup right now and I will be happy to take the test."

Republican Virginia State Senator Richard Black says, "I think the use of drugs for some people is the reason they are unemployed. I don't believe that taxpayers have an obligation to pay for recreational drug use. And I think if a person has the money to pay for illicit drugs, then they have the money to support themselves.'"

Maybe he and my Nevada Republican Senator Joe Heck should also be forced to take a drug test before they can pick up their taxpayer-paid paychecks too. After all, what's good for the goose...

And I'd also like to see the CEO who had me drug tested and wrongfully fired to face the indignity of being forced to piss in a plastic cup while a stranger looks on. The last I heard, he and his rich buddies were partying on a yacht with cocaine. I wonder how many people in congress also do.

Now I'm 56, six years away from an early Social Security retirement, and relying on food stamps that the Republicans want to cut. Will I also have to take a drug test to get Social Security too?


  1. Almost Half Of U.S. Households Live One Crisis Away From The Bread Line

    "According to a new report, 43 percent of households in America -- some 127.5 million people -- are liquid-asset poor."

    The Republican answer? Cut taxes for the rich, drug test the unemployed, and hire people for $7.25 an hour.


  2. The Indiana House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday that would drug test people who apply for welfare, along with members of the Indiana General Assembly. "I feel it is imperative that your tax dollars go to those who are truly trying to better themselves. We must provide incentives for people to bring themselves out of poverty and to do the right thing."

    Instead of blanket testing for every member of the General Assembly, the new version of the bill lets lawmakers opt in to a system of random screening similar to the one for families seeking cash assistance. (If they don't consent, they lose their parking spaces and other perks.)

    The bill has different standards for "reasonable suspicion" for a lawmaker and a welfare applicant. The bill gives leaders in the General Assembly leeway to form "reasonable suspicion" that a lawmaker is using illegal drugs, but while it mentions convictions and drug charges, it does not specifically say whether lawmakers who miss scheduled votes or hearings will be considered suspicious.


  3. UPDATE FEB. 3, 2012 - Nevada has the highest foreclosure and unemployment rates of any state, and some of its safety net programs catch poor people at a lower rate than they do elsewhere. In Nevada, Medicaid covers just 12 percent of non-elderly adults in qualifying income range. More than half of those go uninsured, compared with 44 percent, or 21.5 million people, for the broader U.S. The food stamp participation rate for eligible people was 72 percent nationwide in 2009. Nevada was among 12 states with rates significantly lower than the national average, with 61 percent of eligible people receiving food assistance.

  4. I was fired for a "positive" random test. I had worked for this company for 7 years. I had several personal days and 6 weeks vacation built up. I was denied unemployment, I am still appealing it, but it has been 7 months with no income. My state very specifically states the concentration required for a positive test. The concentration of my test was less than one-fifth the required amount. I say random testing without your wages being minimum wage X 24 X 7 plus OT is a violation of the Fair Wage and Standard Act.