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Workplace related drug testing: a brief overview

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Focus on legal and ethical issues of workplace drug testing. Be sure to consider various types of drug testing programs in your analysis. Additional issues to be considered are as follows:

1) Types of drug tests (urinalysis, sweat tests, and etc.)

2) Reliability of drug testing methods

3) Types of drug testing programs (mandatory, voluntary, and etc.)

4) Appropriateness of certain types of testing programs for specific occupational environments

5) Who to test and why

In your analysis, be sure to offer a critical judgment regarding the ethical and legal implications of drug testing given the various factors outlined above. Use a minimum of two sources reflecting current research to substantiate your argument.

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Workplace related drug testing is stipulated in many work fields, as part of the human resources' criteria for hiring a person. If an individual is tested and is found to be using illicit drugs or of being addicted to alcohol or any other chemical substance, that can be a grounds for not hiring such a person or firing him/ her, when found intoxicated at work.

Drugs testing laws are essential, because professionals working in professional settings, especially medicine, engineering, transportation and social services need a near absolute level of alertness and conscious-ness. Without these imperative personal sensible qualities, no one can work effectively at their work, in fact, without mental alertness and professional demeanor, as is the case of an intoxicated or addicted person, a given professional ...

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Workplace related drug testing

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Analaysis on Drug Testing

Locate and read a human services research article from a scholarly journal in the University Library that includes a statistical analysis.( I have included this article below) The article must be 10 to 30 pages long and be on a topic that interests you. Here is a recommended search strategy:

Assess in 100 to 150 words the presentation of the material. Address these questions: Is the content formatted clearly, and is it stylistically sound? Does it adhere to APA guidelines for expressing ideas and reducing bias in language?

Discuss in 250 to 400 words the statistical analyses within the article. Address these questions: Does the article incorporate graphs or tables that facilitate understanding? Are the statistical analyses appropriate for the subject? Are they conducted correctly? Do they support the conclusions reached by the author or authors? Are there additional statistical analyses you may perform on this data to gain further knowledge? Are the statistics misleading or biased?

Employee ResponsibUities and Rights Journal VoL 9, No. 2, 1996
Drug Testers Versus Nontesters: Human Resources
Managers' Perceptions and Oi^anuational Characteristics
Debra R. Comer and Richard
Survey responses from 134 human resources managers (50 from drug testing and 84 Jkmi
nontesting organizations) indicated that representatives f^mn drug testing organizations were
no less likely than their counterparts from nontesting organizations to know that drug tests
cannot assess performance impairment However, awareness of this Urrutation of drug
testing was associated with gi^eater perceptions of testing as invasive (^privacy and unsound
for dealing with drug use in the workplace. The prevalence of drug testing was related to
organizational size and industry type, but unrelated to perceptions of employees' drug use.
Inytlications for research and practice are ^ d
KEY WORDS: drug testing; drug use; human resources management (hrm); privacy.
Research indicates that responses to employee drug testing are more negative
when tests are deemed invasive. An often overlooked or unstated feattire of drug
tests is their inability to detect performance impairment. It was hypothesized that
awareness of this basic limitation of drug t^ts would increase perceptions of testing
as invasive, as well as unsound, inasmuch as testing compromises applicant/employee
privacy to gather information of dubiotis utility, and woixld thus also merease perceptions
of testing as generally inappropriate. Additionally, it was predicted that human
resources representatives from drug testing organizations, compared with their
counterparts from nontesting organizations, would be less likely to know that drug
testing cannot determine impairment. This research also deductively as^ssed findings
from previous research concerning organizational characteristics linked with the
tendency to test employees for drug use. It was predicted, on the basis of prior
studies, that drug testing would be more prevalent in organi2ations with more employees
and in certain industries (manufacturing, utilities, and transportation vs. sales
and service), but would be unrelated to perceptions of employees' drug use.
'Department of Management and General Business, Hofistra Univeraity, Hempstead, New York 11550.
132 Com^ and Buda
Although workplace drug testing is proliferating (see, e.g., Greenberg, 1993;
U.S. Department of Labor, 1989) there is a lack of definitive evidence that it
can enhance organizational safety or productivity (see Cropanzano & Konovsky,
1993; Harris «fc Heft, 1992; Morgan, 1991; Thompson, Riccucci, & Ban, 1991).
That is, drug testing has not been shown to have predictive validity as a measure
of organizational effectiveness (Hoffman & Lovler, 1989; Vodanovich & Reyna,
Many proponents of drug testing presume it will discourage drug use.
Research suggests, however, that not all drug users are unfit for employment.
Because certain demographic factors may simultaneously affect one's decision to
use drugs and one's work behavior, only some of those members of the work force
who use drugs are compromising their performance by using them on the job, and
some off-hours drug use may even boost productivity (Gill & Michaels, 1992;
Register & Williams, 1992). Those current employees most daunted by the prospect
of workplace testing are likely the casual off-hours users who abstain from their
at-home use in order to avoid potential embarrassment and job loss. Because
serious addicts are less able to control their drug dependencies, testing may not so
easily deter their substance abuse, which has greater potential for personal and
organizational harm. Consequently, applicant screening may keep serious users^ —
along with casual users — from gaining employment, but testing cannot prevent
incumbents' drug use in the workplace.
A fundamental, but commonly unrecognized, problem with drug testing is its
inability to detect impairment. Tests can only distinguish between someone who
has used or been exposed to a drug and someone who has not; they cannot tell
when the former took the drug, how much was taken, how frequently this person
has taken this drug, or the effect of the drug on the user (Axel, 1990; Lundberger,
1986; Morgan, 1987). Moreover, drug tests cannot assess drug use in time to prevent
it from causing harm; by the time an employee's test result has been interpreted
as positive, any drug-impaired behavior would already have taken its toll. On the
other hand, the metabolites in a person's urine that produce a positive test result
do not necessarily mean the person cannot work, as any effects of the drug could
have long worn off by the time the test was administered.
In addition to the inability of drug tests to deter drug abuse or determine
impairment, testing has raised moral questions. DesJardins and Duska (1987), for
example, have argued that even if employees are using drugs, so long as they
perform responsibly, their organizations need not know about their drug use, and
that if the employees' performance is compromised by the drugs, their employers
may rightfully discipline or dismiss them, but still do not need to know the root of
their impeded performance. Others, too, have challenged workplace testing on the
grounds that it intrudes on employee privacy (see, e.g., Abbasi, Hollman, & Murrey,
1988; Caste, 1992; Haig, 1990; Haas, 19SK); Hanson, 1988; Kupfer, 1988; Lewis,
^It has been posited (Bearman, 1988; Crown & Ross£, 1991; Hanson, 1988), however, that some
individuals may elude drug tests by tampering with their urine or substituting drug-free specimens.
Drug Testers Versus Nontestra^ ]33
1990; Malia, 1989; Maltby, 1990; Mendelson & Libbin, 1988; Pavlovich, 1989).
Instead of urine testing, they have advocated performance testing, which focuses
on individuals' abilify to do their jobs, rather than on the cause of any impairment
(see Fine, 1992; McGinley, 1992; Stevens, 1990).
Employee fospooses to Workplace Testing
In the last few years, the proliferation of workplace drv^ testing and the controversy
over its invasion of the privacy of applicants and employee have led to researdi on the
re^Mnses of emplc^ees and job apsplicants to various drug testing practices. This r^earch
suggests, indeed, that drug testii^ may espedalty lead to negative attitudes and behaviors
when it is perceived as invasive. It has been shown, for e:^mple, tiiat responses to drug
testing are less negative if advance notice is provided (Smith, 1^8; Stone & Kotch, 1^9),
random testing is not used (Hanson, 1990; Masters, Ferris, & Ratcli^ 1988; Murphy,
Thomton, & Reynolds, 1990), testing is restricted to safefy-seisitive jobs (Latessa, Travis,
& Qillen, 1988; Muiphy, Ihomton, & Pnie, 1991; Stone & Vine, 1989), tests do not
reveal medical information beyond one's use of illicit drugs (Stone & Vine, 1989), tests
seem necessary (Stecher & Rosse, 1992), or those who test positive for drug use re<»ive
rehabilitation instead of punishment (Stone & Kotch, 1989).
Crant and Bateman (1989) proposed that perceptions of and responses to workplace
drug testing programs depend, in part, on an "accuracy" criterion (Leventhal, Karuza, &
Fry, 1980). Tliat is, individuals will view drug tests less favorably to the extent they deem
them inaccurate at gauging drug use. Indeed, the accuracy of drug tests was the most
salient concem of employees surveyed by Reid, Murphy, and Reynolds (1990). Also, Kulik
and Qcirk's (1992) experiment indicated that beliefe in the accuracy of a positive drug
test result affect responses to an employment decision based on this test result. AB their
student subjects were asked to assume the role of job applicants with a positive drug test
result and were told the test had a false positive rate of 4%. Though the students generalfy
e}q3ressed negative affect toward the decision to deny the applicant a job, those who
thought the test result was a mistake were even more nesentfUl, angiy, and upset by the
decision than those who deemed the test accurate.
But even if a test result is accurate, inasmuch as it reliably assesses the presence
of metabolites that are in a urine sample (or the absence of metabolites from a san^le
where there are none), the (non)existence of these metabolites is not a valid measure of
performance suitabilify. Although Crant and Bateman (1989) spoke to the issue of
reiiabiUfy by acknowledging that drug testing can be compromised by false positives and
human error (see, also, Abbasi et aL, 1988; Abelson, 1991; Brookler, 199^ Budiansky,
1986; DeCresce, Ijfehitz, Mazura, & Tilson, 1989; Elliott, 1989; Feit & Holosko, 1990;
Rosse, Crown, & Feldman, 1990), they did not address the more fundamental flaw —
that a drug test does not discem impaired performance. It would seem that awareness
of this basic limitation of drug teste would negative^ prediq»se one to drug testing. In
partictjlar, such awareness would likely heighten perceptions of tiie invasiveness and
unsoundness of testing, insofar as testing sacrifices individual privacy in order to pther
information of little, if any, oi^nizational use, and would, therefore, likely also hei^ten
perceptions of the overall inappropriateness of testing.
134 Comer u d Bwla
A major purpose of the present research was to examine if awareness of the
inabilify of drug testing to determine performance fitness affects perceptions of
testing. Also, because so many organizations have recently instituted drug testing
programs, the study sought to determine the level of awareness of this inabilify of
testing to assess performance suitabilify. Two hypotheses were thus proposed:
Hypothesis 1. Greater awareness of the inabilify of dmg testing to show
performance impairment is related to increased perceptions of dmg testing as
invasive, imsound, and generally inappropriate.
Hypothesis 2 Himaan resources management representatives of organizations
that do conduct dmg testing are less aware than their counterparts in nontesting
organizations that dmg testing cannot determine performance impairment. Their
own lack of awareness may contribute to their organization's decision to test, and/or
their organization's decision to test may, at least in part, lead them to view dmg
testing as valid and sensible.
A second objective of this study was to synthesize previous research on
differences between dmg testing and nontesting organizations. Gomez-Mejia and
Balkin (1987) distinguished between testing and nontesting organizations in terms
of organizational characteristics and managerial attitudes. Karren (1989) specified
the factors involved in organizations' decisions about whether or not to conduct
testing, and Rosse et al (1990) considered why some organizations have chosen
dmg testing to respond to workplace dmg use. Likewise, Guthrie and Olian (1991)
investigated environmental and organizational factors affecting organizations'
implementation of substance testing, and Murphy and Thomton (1992a) identified
factors differentiating testing from nontesting organizations and observed the
frequency with which organizations that do test use certain practices. Yet, as these
investigators generally relied heavily on descriptive or inductive analyses to derive
the relationships between organizational factors and dmg testing practices, it was
lefr to the present study to use deductive analj^is.
Gomez-Mejia and Balkin (1987) reported a significant positive association
between organizational size and propensify to conduct dmg testing, as did Guthrie
and Olian (1991) and Murphy and Thomton (1992a). To explain their finding,
Guthrie and Olian proposed that organizations with more employees tend to
exercise control through more formal policies and programs.
Industry differences in the propensify to conduct dmg testing have also been
noted. Gomez-Mejia and Balkin (1987) found manufacturing organizations more
likely to test, and service organizations more likely not to test, as did Guthrie and
Olian (1991), who also observed a high degree of dmg testing in pharmaceutical
companies and utilities, and a low degree in financial, insurance, and information
systems firms. Rosse et aL (1990) likewise found that organizations in constmction,
manufacturing, utilities, and the govemment were more likely to have dmg testing
than those in finance, insurance, real estate, services, or health. Murphy and
Thomton (1992a) collapsed transportation, mining, and manufacturing into one
industry category, and found that dmg testing is more common in this group than
in sales or service organizations. The greater prevalence of dmg testing in some
Drug Testn^ Versus Nontesters ]35
industries is likely due, in part, to the nature of the work. For example, industries
with employees who perform safefy-sensitive responsibOities are more likely to be
regulated. Not only have the courts generally ruled in favor of testing in these
industries, but the govemment has required dmg testing in certain industries, such
as transportation (see Murphy, Barlow, & Hatch, 1990; Newman, 1994).
Logic would also dictate that workplace dmg testing could be expected to be
more common in organizations where employees' perceived dmg use is high. Yet,
on the contrary, Gomez-Mejia and Balkin (1987) reported that human resource
managers from organizations that did conduct dmg testing were not significantly
more likely to agree than their counterparts from nontesting organizations that dmg
use is a problem in their organization. Moreover, Rosse et al. (1990) did not find
any relationship between extent of dmg use in an organization (as measured by
the percentage of employees thought to be using dmgs on or off the job) and the
presence of dmg testing, nor did Guthrie and Olian (1991).
The following hypotheses conceming organizational characteristics were thus
Hypothesis 3a. Organizations that do conduct dmg testing tend to have more
employees than those that do not.
Hypothesis 3b. Dmg testing is more prevalent in manufacturing, utilities, and
transportation organizations than bi sales or service organizations.
Hypothesis 3c. Drug testing is not associated with an organization's perception
of its employees' dmg use.
Procedure and Sample
The first author and three research assistants telephoned 721 organizations randomfy
selected from a directory of companies in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long
Island, New YorL Despite the recent publication of the directory, 19 of the companies
could not be reached at the numbers listed. Upon contacting each of the remaining
702 organizations, a request was made to speak with a human resources manager or
other suitable contact person (in some of the smaller firms, there was no HRM specialist,
and a general manager/administrator or even company president was addressed),
who was asked to participate in research on organizational views toward drug testing
by taking about 10 minutes to complete a a)nfidential mail-in questionnaire. Folloiwing
Gomez-Mejia and Balkin (1987), human resources representatives were conta:ted because
they were e^qjected to be knowledgeable about the drug testing program or lack
thereof in their respective organizations. At this point, 527 organizations consented to
participate (there was no difference between testing and nontesting organizations in
rate of agreement to participate). They were sent a five-page questionnaire that inquired
about their personal and organizational characteristics and their perceptk>ns of
dmg testing. Organizations that did conduct drug testir^ received a diffisrent version
136 Comer and Bnda
from those that did not test. The former were asked about their re^om for testing
and flieir ^jedfic testing practices, whereas the latter were asked about their reasons
for not testing and their views on these practices. Of the 527 organizations that received
a questionnaire, accompanied by a cover letter repeating the purpose of the research
and underscoring the confidentialify of responses (partidpeuits were not asked to give
their organization's name), 143 used the postage-paid retum envelope to mail their
completed questionnaire, for a retum rate of 27.1%. As nine retumed questionnaires
were not usable, the final sample included 50 organizations (37.3%) that did test for
dmg use and 84 organizations (62.7%) that did not. The ratio of testing to nontesting
companies in this final group was equivalent to that of the sample consenting to receive
questionnaires in the mail, providing evidence that non-response error did not cxxur
(Dillman, 1991). The response rate, although somewhat lower than that obtained by
Murphy and Thomton (1992a), is comparable to rates reported ty Gomez-Mejia and
Balkin (1987), Guthrie and OUan (1991), and Rosse et al (1990).
The final sample consisted of organizations in manufacturing, research and
development, sales, service, transportation, and utilities. It included a wide range
of organizations in terms of size, operationalized as number of employees; 15 organizations
(11.2%) employed fewer than 100 individuals and 10 (7.5%) had 5,000
or more employees, but over half had from 100 to 499 employees. Respondents
had a mean age of 42.8 years (s.d. = 10.8); 79 (59.0%) were females.
Two five-point Likert-type items assessed participants' awareness that drug testing
does not show [performance impairment, two five-point items Eissessed their sense of
the invasiveness of dmg testing, and three assessed their perceptions of the imsoundness
of organizational dmg testing for dealing with dmg abuse (see Appendix). Some
of these items were adopted from Konovslq^ and Cropanzano (1991) and Stone and
Vine (1989). The questionnaire also contained Murphy and Thomton's (1992b) scale
for measuring attitudes toward workplace testing. Its 19 five-point IJkert-fype items
concem actual features of organizational testing practices, such as who is tested, the
administration and management of the testing, and the consequences for employees.
Murphy and Thomton (1992b) reported on the reliabilify and constmct validify of the
scale, the mean of which yields an overall measure of a respondent's views of the
appropriateneffi of workplace dmg testing. Responses to these 19 items from representatives
of nontesting organizations indicated their general view of the appropriateness
of these dmg testing practices (Cronbach's a = .84). Representatives of dmg
testing organizations indicated which of the practices actualfy characterized their own
testing program. Similarly, whereas respondente from nontesting organizations were
asked for their views on performance testing, their counterparts in dmg testing organizations
were asked whether their organizations implemented this type of testing. All
the above items were anchored from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree. Additionally,
all participants were asked to indicate the proportion of employees in their
organization (between 1 = none and 7 = all) they thought used illegal dmgs both
"away from the worlqjlace on their days off" and "at the workplace."
Drug Testers Versus Nontesters I3<^
Organizations that Did Conduct Drug Testing
Of the 50 organizations (37% of the sample, compared to 40.6% reported by
Murphy & Thornton, 1992a, and 48.9% reported by Guthrie & Olian, 1991) that
conducted drug testing, 11 (22%) tested applicants only; two of these tested applicants
for certain positions only and nine tested all applicants. Thh^-seven (74%)
tested both applicants and current employees; 19 of these tested applicants and employees
for certain positions only, and 18 tested applicants and employees in all
positions. (Two organizational representatives did not respond to this item.) None
of the drug testing organizations in the sample conducted performance (skills) testing.
In general, the drug testing practices observed in this sample are fairly similar
to those reported by Murphy and Thornton (1992a). For example, in 25 of the organizations
(50%), witnesses observe while employees provide urine specimens, as
compared to 32.9% reported by Murphy and Thornton (1992a); in 39.6% of the
organizations, employees who test positive are given a leave for rehabilitation, versus
24.3% in Murphy and Thornton (1992a); employees who test positive are terminated
in 25% of the organizations, as compared to 30% in Murphy and Thornton (1992a);
random testing occurs in 29.2%, compared to Murphy and Thornton's (1992a)
31.4%. (A complete list of comparisons is available from the authors.) Differences
between the two samples may stem from the preponderance of large organizations
and presence of military organizations responding to their survey.
The organizations had a range of experience with drug testing programs.
Three organizations were in their first year of drug testing, and two were in their
eleventh year. The median was the fourth year, which characterized 21.7% of the
organizations. The reasons respondents gave for implementing their drug testing
programs resemble rationales cited in earlier studies. Compliance with governmental
regulations was the most frequent response (given by 15 individuals). Safety
enhancement, the primary factor given by respondents to Karren's (1989) telephone
survey asking organizations to name the factors contributing to their decision to
test for drugs, was the second most common response here (mentioned by 10), and
the third most common one was to avoid having users as employees (nine). Concern
for employee health was mentioned less frequently here (two individuals) than in
Karren's (1989) study, as were dealing with prevalent drug use in society, meeting
customer requests, keeping up with other companies that tested, and enhancing
public perception.
Organizations that Did not Conduct Drug Testing
Only 27 (just under one-third) of the 84 organizations without drug testing
had considered testing (two were currently considering it). Four main reasons were
reported for not instituting drug testing: 43 respondents mentioned that no perceived
need existed for testing; 22, high administrative and financial costs of testing;
19, respect for employees' needs and rights; and 18, wariness of legal implications.
138 Comer and Bnda
(Such wariness is probably unwarranted. Indeed, many of the drug testing organizations
in this sample, as well as that of Murphy and Thornton, 1992a, reported
that they implemented d n ^ testing programs eispressly because the government required
them to do so. Further, except in those states whose laws specifically eonstrain
the conditions under which employees and applicants can be tested for drup,
employers have usually won lawsuits waged by employees and applicants opposed
to their testing initiatives; see Blum, 1991.) Similarly, Gomez-Mejia and Balkin's
(1987) survey of human resotirces managers indicated significant differences between
drug testing and nontesdng respondents in terms of their attitudes toward
these four ^sues. The first three issues were also cited frequently in Karren's (1989)
sample. Other reasons given here were viewing drug testing as ineffective for dealing
with drug use (six mentions), which Gomez-Mejia and Baikin (1987) found to
be a more prevalent belief of managers from nontesting versus drug testing organizations;
fear of union reaction (three mentions); and uncertainty about how to deal
with those testing positive (one mention). The respondents viewed performance
(skills) testing as less appropriate than drug testing (M=2.34, s.d.=.% vs. M=3.16,
s.d.=.53, respectively).
Perceptions of the limitations and Impact of Drug Testing
Examination of the correlational analysis (see Table I) provides support for
Hypothesis 1, in that awareness of the inability of drug testing to detect performance
impairment was significantly correlated with both perceived invasiveness and
perceived unsoundness of drug testing, which were significantly correlated with each
other. Contrary to Hypothesis 2, membership in a drug testing versus nontesting
organization was not significantly correlated with less awareness of the inability of
drug testing to detect performance impairment. There was a significant association,
however, between membership in a nontesting organization and perceptions of drug
testing as invasive and unsound. Although age and gender of respondent were significantly
inter-correlated, neither was significantly correlated with perceptions of
drug testing. These findings are in contrast to Stone, Stone, and Hyatt's (1989)
finding that younger respondents tended to perceive drug testing as more invasive
of privacy than did older respondents, and Latessa et aL's (1988) finding that females
and older individuals were more approving of testing, but consistent with
Labig's (1992) observation that neither gender nor age predicted overall views of
drug testing.
Regression analyses clarified the relationships among type of organization
(nontesting vs. drug testing), awareness of testing's inability to assess performance
fitness, perceived invasiveness of testing, and perceived unsoundness of testing. As
Table II iUustrates, both awareness of the inability of drug testing to assess performance
impairment and membership in a nontesting organization significantly
predicted perceptions of drug testing as invasive for the whole sample. Also, both
awareness of the inability of drug testing to assess performance impairment and
perceptions of drug testing as invasive, but not membership in a nontesting organization,
significantly predicted perceptions of drug testing as unsound.
Drag Testae Versus Nontesters
S S g ^
d d d d
S S 8
^ d d
S 8 2 S
c^ d o d
« 2 '^
ci a !z>
NO 00
d d
.— oc
d d
2 -S °
5 S I
' i I ill
•I -^
00 an
= «
at) S
5 •"
•a .Q
'- •£,
It rs r% .""
O. D.
O ft. al < O
s ^ i
g' I = -
2 2 2
2 «e rst r2t - 00 00 00
140 Comer and Bnda
Table II. Sununary Results of Regres^on Analyses
Dependent variable Independent variable
Entire sample
Perceived invasiveness Nontesting
0.89 (0.16)
0.38 (0.09)
Perceived unsoundness
Nontesting vs.
0.16 (0.12) 1.32
0.31 (0.07) 4.67^
0.46 (0.06) 7.16''
Organization size -0.06 (0.01) -4.32*
Industry (transportation vs. tiontransportation) -0.62 (0.13) -4.73''
Perceived drug use, home -0.02 (0.06) -0.40
Perceived dmg use, work 0.07 (0.07) 1.08
Drug-testing subsample
Perceived invasiveness
Perceived unsoundness
0.34 (0.12) 2.79*
0.26 (0.09) 2.73''
0.46 (0.10) 4.40''
Nontesting subsample
Perceived invasiveness Awareness 0.42 (0.12) 3.52'^
Perceived unsoundness Awareness
0.36 (0.09) 3.82^
0.45 (0.08) 5.56''
0.06 (0.06) 1.17
0.18 (0.05) 3.28*
0.31 (0.06) 5.10^
"p < .0.05.
*/) < .0.01.
'jj < .0.001.
V < .0.0001.
Table m. Industry and Drug-Testing Propensity
Drug testers
Cell chi-square
Cell chi-square
Drag Testers Versus Nontesters 141
Separate analyses of the responses from the subsample of drug testing organizations
and the subsample of nontesting organizations yielded similar results
and additional support for Hypothesis 1 (see Table II). Further, for the nontesting
respondents, perceived invasiveness and perceived mwoundness had direct effects
on perceived inappropriateness of testing; and awareness of testing's limitations, by
dint of its direct effect on perceived invasiveness and perceived unsoundness, had
an indirect effect on perceived inappropriateness of testing.
Organizational Characteristics Differentiatii^
Drug Testers from Nontesters
As predicted in Hypothesis 3a, organizational size was significantly correlated
with dmg testing (see Table I).
A chi-square analysis assessed whether a relationship existed between industry
type and propensity to conduct drug testing. The four industries most represented
in the sample — manufacturing, sales, service, and transportation (92.5% of the 134
participating organizations) — were included. Partial support for Hypothesis 3b was
found: As Table III depicts, organizations in the transportation industry were disproportionately
more likely to conduct dmg testing (x^ (3) = 16.089, p < 0.001).
Perceived Drug Use
Mean perceptions of employees' use of illegal dmgs away from the workplace
and on the job (see Table I) indicate general perceptions of moderately low dmg
usage at home and very low dmg usage at work. The perception of employees' dmg
use away from work was significantly correlated with the perception of their dmg
use at work, and the latter was also correlated with greater organizational size. Yet,
as predicted by Hypothesis 3c, there was no relationship between whether an organization
tested for dmg use and the extent to which its employees were perceived
to use drugs either at or away from work. In fact, dmg testing representatives' responses
to the items conceming the proportion of employees in their organizations
whom they perceived as using dmgs at home or at work were only 2.60 (s.d. = 0.78)
and 1.82 (s.d. = 0.77), respectively (1 = none; 7 = all).
Creating a binary variable for industry, i.e., differentiating between transportation
organizations and all others in the sample, made it possible to regress
whether or not an organization conducted dmg testing on the characteristics of
interest — size, industry, and perceived dmg use of employees at work and at home.
As expected, only size and industry significantly predicted whether or not an organization
conducted dmg testing {see Table II).
142 Como' and Buda
Table IV. Classification Matrix for Testing Status
Group classification
Nontesters Drug testers Actual total" percentage
76 90.8
46 71.7
Drug testers
Predicted total
40 122
' Four of the drug testers (8%) and eight of the nontesters (9.5%) were excluded form the analysis
because of missing data on at least one discriminating variable.
Discriminating Between Drug testing
and Nontesting Organizations
In the previous analyses, an organization's testing status (drug testing vs.
nontesting) has been treated sometimes as an independent variable affecting
perceptions of testing (Hypothesis 2), and other times as a dependent variable
contingent on organizational characteristics (Hypothesis 3). To supplement and
integrate these analyses, a discriminant function analysis was conducted using
testing status as a dependent variable and including all continuous variables as
possible predictors. (Although respondent gender and organizational size and
industry, operationalized as transportation vs. nontransportation organizations,
are, strictly speaking, discrete variables, they were treated as continuous, following
Gaertner & Nollen, 1992.)
Table IV illustrates the results of the discriminant function analysis. Drug
testing vs. nontesting respondents were correctly classified at a level much beyond
chance; 83.61% of the sample was correctly classified (x^ (3) = 50.83,
p < 0.005).
Table V presents standardized canonical discriminant function coefficients yielding
a profile of dmg testing vs. nontesting respondents. Results indicated that perceptions
of testing as less invasive and as less unsound significantly discriminated
between representatives of dmg testing and nontesting organizations (F = 35.15
and F = 22.40, respectively, both at /? < 0.0001). Membership in a larger organization
{F = 12.61, p < 0.0005) and in a transportation organization (F = 16.27,
p < 0.0001) also yielded significant discriminant functions contributing to the profile
of the dmg testing vs. nontesting group of respondents. Consistent with the
previous analyses, neither awareness that tests cannot detect impairment nor employees'
perceived dmg use at home or work discriminated between drug testing
and nontesting respondents. As expected, respondents' demographic characteristics
were also insignificant.
Drug Testers Versus Noatesters
Table V. Discriminant Function Analysis for Drug Testers vs. Nontesters
Perceived invasiveness of drug testing
Perceived unsoundness of drug testing
Organization size
Awareness of testing's inability to detect impairment
Employees' perceived off-hour drug usage
Employees' perceived on-the-job drug usage
Discriminant function
This study examined whether awareness of the inability of dmg testing to detect
performance impairment affected perceptions of testing. Those respondents
who were aware were also more likely to consider testing invasive and unsound.
Thus, there is evidence that the awareness of dmg testing's limitations contributes
to views toward workplace testing, as do the means of selecting which positions are
tested (Latessa et al, 1988; Murphy et al, 1991; Stone & Vine, 1989) and when
testing occurs (Hanson, 1990; Masters et al, 1988; Murphy et al, 1990; Smith,
1988), the perceived need for testing (Stecher & Rosse, 1992), the kind of information
gleaned by drug tests (Stone & Vine, 1989), and the consequences of testing
(Stone & Kotch, 1989).
Contrary to expectations, it was found that representatives of nontesting organizations
were not significantly more knowledgeable than their counterparts in
drug testing organizations about this basic limitation of dmg testing. However, the
former did perceive dTug tests as more invasive. In Gomez-Mejia and Balkin's
(1987) investigation, respondents from nontesting organizations were likewise more
inclined to agree that dmg testing is an invasion of privacy. Apparently, knowing
the limitations of dmg testing is associated with human resources managers' concerns
about its negative impact on employees and its value as an organizational
practice, but not associated with whether testing occurs in their organizations. The
discriminant function analysis distinguished between dmg testers and nontesters according
to their perceptions of the soundness of testing. But in the regression analysis,
after holding constant perceptions of the invasiveness of testing, HR managers'
perceptions of testing as unsound were unrelated to their organizations' testing
status. Further study is needed to clarify these relationships.
144 Comer and Buda
Additionalfy, it remains for future researdi to ascertain whether an organization's
drug testing status is a precursor to or consequence of its HR managers' perceptions
of dn^ testing. It is hoped that such research will examine the extent to which a human
resource manner who knows about the problems of drug testing technology and perceives
testing as invasive can influence his or her organization's drug testing policy.
HR managers could be asked, through interviews and/or questionnaires, about their
input into organizational decisions about drug testing. Conversely, to what degree (if
any) would a knowledgeable manager who could not direct drug testing policy develop
less negative attitudes toward drug tests, so as to reduce cognitive dissonance? A longitudinal
study could track managers' attitudes toward drug testing before, immediately
after, and several months after the implementation of a testing program.
Research is also needed to assess the impact of employees' awareness of drug
testing's inability to determine performance fitness. In light of the findings here that
HR managers' awareness of drug testing's inability to determine performance fitness
is linked with views of testing as more invasive of privacy and less organizationally
sound, it is reasonable to expect that job applicants and incumbents who know that
the urine specimens they must submit can indicate only their previous exposure to
given substances — rather than their ability to perform their jobs — will find these
tests more objectionable than those who are not aware. Indeed, Rynes and Connerley
(1993) observed that individuals have more favorable views toward selection devices
they deem job-relevant. Moreover, employees who have submitted to workplace drug
tests, only to discover subsequentiy that these tests do not demonstrate performance
fitness, may develop particularly negative attitudes toward their employers. Future
inquiries can e3q>lore employees' awareness of the limitations of drug tests and the
effect of such awareness on their perceptions of testing.
This study also confirmed previous empirical work (Gomez-Mejia & Baikin,
1987; Guthrie & Olian, 1991; Karren, 1989; Murphy & Thornton, 1992a; Rosse etal,
1990) by finding differences between drug testing and nontesting organizations with
respect to size and industry, but not employees' perceived drug use. The greater
prevalence of drug testing among transportation organizations in the present sample
is unsurprising, given DOT regulations. Nonetheless, of the 12 organizations whose
respondents reported that testing had been initiated in compliance with the DOT
mandate, four tested for nine drugs and three others, for 10 drugs. This willingness
to incur additional expense to test for other than the five DOT-required drugs (splitting
the DOT sample is prohibited) suggests that organizational testing campaigns
are not always driven solely by regulations. Likewise, even though it has been proposed
that drug testing is less sensible and cost-effective in populations with fewer
drug users (Guthrie & Olian, 1991; Sexton & Zilz, 1988; Thompson et al, 1991),
respondents of drug testing organizations were no more likely to perceive their employees
as drug users at home or at work. If it is assumed that the extent of employee
drug use perceived by those representatives surveyed adequately refiects the perceptions
of others in their respective organizations, it cannot be concluded that the drug
testing organizations in this study sample conduct testing because their employees
are viewed as heavy drug users. Perhaps workplace drug testing sometimes stems
more from sociopolitical and/or symbolic than practical concerns (see Cavanaugh &
Prasad, 1994; and Guthrie & Olian, 1991).
Drug Testers Versos Nootesters i^
Although the sample consisted entirely of organizations from one region of
the nation, its comparability to previously reported samples (ia terms of factors
contributing to organizational decisions alrout whether or not to test, and practices
used by drug testing organizations), plus the range of industries and sizes of organizations
included, afford some generalizability of the findings. This variety of
organizations also helped to alter the test context, and thereby reduce the problem
of common-method variance (see Mitchell, 1985) associated with reliance on selfreport
responses to items on the same questionnaire. Nonetheless, future inquiries
ought to explore the effect of additional organization-level factors on drug testing
attitudes and practices. Finally, it was noted that the practitioners in the present
study were as uninformed about the possibilities of performance testing as they
were about the limitations of drug testing. None of the drug testing organizations
in the sample used performance testing, which respondents of the nontesting organizations
deemed less appropriate than urine testing. Yet skills testing has been
designed to detect impaired behavior (from fatigue or stress as well as substance
abuse), it is less expensive than urine testing to administer and interpret, and results
are immediately available to allow timely managerial action (Fine, 1992; Maltby,
1990; McGinley, 1992; Stevens, 1990). Further, because performance testing judges
employees on their competence for work, rather than their personal activities, it is
less intrusive of individuals' privacy than is drug testing. Because skills testing has
only recently been adapted for the workplace (Fine, 1992; McGinley, 1992), its effectiveness
must be evaluated systematically (Harris & Heft, 1992). Indeed, some
preliminary evidence suggests that one of the major tests on the market needs to
be refined (Comer, 1994). Nonetheless, a valid skills test holds promise for organizations
that ultimately care more about their employees' ability to perform than
the cause of any impairment. Human resources practitioners thus need to learn
more about skills testing as a potential altemative or supplement to drug testing.
The authors acknowledge the helpful comments of two anonymous reviewers
and the research assistance of Jeanette Ranghelli, Lauren D'Onofrio, and Gregory
Awareness of the inability of drug testing to determine perforniarwe fitness [lower
values (indicating respondents' disagreement) represent greater awareness]:
"Drug tests accurately measure whether an employee is fit to perform his or her
"The results of an individual's drug test indicate the extent of the individual's job
146 Comer and Biida
Perceived invasiveness of drug testing [both items were reverse-coded; lower
values represent greater perceived invasiveness]:
"Drug testing is an invasion of an employee's personal rights."
"In addition to showing the presence or absence of the drug being tested for, the
results of a drug test reveal personal medical information that someone's employer
has no business knowing."
Perceived unsoundness of drug testing for dealing with drug abuse [lower values
represent greater perceived unsoundness of drug testing]:
"Drug testing is an effective means to deal with drug abuse in the workplace."
"The expenses incurred by administering and interpreting drug tests are a sound
investment that pays off in terms of reduced future costs."
"Workplace drug testing is a sensible way to cope with the problems of drug use
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