Drug Testing for Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Pennsylvania
May 9, 2022 | Workers’ Compensation
Pennsylvania’s Workers Compensation Act covers most employees working in the state. If a worker is injured on the job, they receive medical care and wage benefits. However, the law allows employers to deny workers’ compensation benefits if the employee’s use of alcohol or drugs caused their injury.
Can Employers Drug Test Workers Who Are Injured on the Job?
There is no state law prohibiting employers from drug testing workers after an on-the-job accident or injury. Therefore, many employers require a drug test after an injury to determine if the use of illegal drugs caused the injury.
Article 3, Section 301(a) of the Worker’s Compensation Act states that:
- Employees do not receive workers’ compensation benefits for self-inflicted injures
- Employees do not receive workers’ compensation benefits if the injury was caused by the employee’s violation, including using illegal drugs.
The employer has the burden of proving this is true. That’s one reason why employers submit their employees to drug testing after a work accident.
Pennsylvania law does not regulate or restrict drug testing by private employers. Therefore, there is not a standard workers’ compensation drug test. The employer may use whatever drug test it deems appropriate. Therefore, a worker could be asked to submit to a blood, urine, hair strand, or breath test after an injury at work.
OSHA Rules for Drug Testing for Workers’ Compensation
Notwithstanding the fact there aren’t any state laws prohibiting post-injury drug tests, a person may not be required to take a drug test after filing a workers’ compensation claim according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules. OSHA enacted anti-retaliation provisions in 2016. The OSHA rule prohibits employers from using post-incident drug testing to retaliate against employees for filing workers’ compensation claims.
That does not mean you will not be drug tested after reporting a work injury or illness. The OSHA regulation prohibits drug testing after reporting a work injury or illness without an “objectively reasonable basis” for conducting the test. Some of the incidents where drug testing would be permitted in a workers’ compensation case include:
- Testing all employees who could have contributed to the work accident when the employer is investigating the primary cause of a workplace incident
- Random drug testing of employees
- Drug testing under a U.S. Department of Transportation rule or other federal law
- Drug testing that is unrelated to a work-related illness or injury
- Requiring drug tests according to a state workers’ compensation law
If your employer has a valid reason to believe that you were using illegal drugs at the time of your work injury, the law permits your employer to require a drug test. Otherwise, the employer may face penalties for violating the OSHA drug testing rules related to work injuries and illnesses.
What Happens if I Fail a Marijuana Drug Test After a Work Injury in Pennsylvania?
The Medical Marijuana Act permits patients with a valid prescription to use medical marijuana to treat specific conditions. However, having a legal prescription for medical marijuana does not mean an employee can use marijuana at work.
The Act states that employers have the right to discipline an employee for being under the influence of medical marijuana at work. It also allows employers to discipline employees for working under the influence of medical marijuana when the employee’s performance falls below the expected standard of care for their job.
Therefore, your workers’ compensation claim could be denied if you test positive for medical marijuana after a work injury. However, a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer may argue that the medical marijuana in your system did not impair your performance.
What Should I Do If I Am Fired or If My Workers’ Compensation Claim Is Denied?
If you refuse to take a drug test after an injury at work, your employer may deny your workers’ compensation claim. In addition, an employer may fire an employee who refuses a drug test according to company policy. However, the employer cannot violate federal or state laws.
Therefore, you should seek legal advice from an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. The laws related to drug testing for workers’ compensation benefits can be confusing. An attorney can assess your situation and advise you of your legal rights and options for appealing the decision.
You may have a valid reason for challenging the decision denying your workers’ compensation claim for drug use. For example, the timing of the drug test could be crucial. Your attorney may argue that the drugs in your system might not have been there when you were injured (i.e., you used drugs after the work injury).
Another argument would be that the drugs in your system had nothing to do with the accident or injury. For example, another employee’s negligence caused your injury. The facts of your case will determine the arguments your attorney makes to appeal the denial of a workers’ compensation claim.
Contact the Workers’ Compensation Lawyers In Pennsylvania at Marzzacco Niven & Associates For Legal Help With Your Case Today
Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610