Unemployment Compensation Drug Testing Rule Scrapped
On March 31, President Trump signed legislation to nullify a U.S. Department of Labor rule that narrowly limited the circumstances under which drug testing may be carried out by states in administering their unemployment compensation insurance systems.
The president’s action halts a 2016 rule drawn up by the department’s Employment and Training Administration, based on a 2012 law.
According to a statement by the U.S. Department of Labor, the rule contradicted clear congressional intent by narrowly limited the circumstances under which drug testing may be carried out and constraining a state’s ability to conduct a drug testing program under the act.
The 2012 law amended the Social Security Act to add 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 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.
The law required the department to define such “occupations” in regulation. ETA issued a final rule to establish occupations that regularly conduct drug testing in the Federal Register on Aug. 1, 2016; it became effective on Sept. 30, 2016.
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