Many employers today use a urine test for all employees before hiring to try to rule out those that use drugs or excessive alcohol. This is for their protection as well as for the protection of their other employees and customers or clients. Even a small amount of narcotics in the system can slow down a person's reaction time and cause them to be negligent on the job.
As an employer you may assume that you can use a urine test at your own discretion since it is your workplace and you are paying an employee's salary. However, there has been some controversy as of late over the misuse of a urine test for examining results other than the presence of drugs. Some employers have been on the receiving end of civil suits because of these practices, so obviously it's good to get the right information before you administer such a test.
As an example, a urine test can obviously tell if a woman is pregnant. Discriminating against a pregnant woman when it comes to hiring is can be considered gender discrimination, and may fall under the Americans With Disabilities Act. A woman with a good lawyer may decide to sue if a test reveals her pregnancy and she is denied a job. Examining the urine test results of women to determine if she is pregnant so as to make a decision in hiring can make an employer susceptible to lawsuits this way.
There are other medical conditions that can be detected with a simple urine test and these conditions may also fall under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Some employers have been caught checking these tests in order to deny employment to ones with medical conditions that may require claims on their medical insurance, hoping to keep their insurance rates low. This practice of checking on a urine test has also opened up employers to civil action since a person's medical records are meant to stay confidential in the first place.
Often when an employer uses a urine test for narcotics testing, they tell the company performing the tests what to look for and report on, and what not to look for. This is because these tests only tell you if a substance or a medical condition is present if you look for these things. A urine test does not automatically come back with a list of medical conditions and problems a person may have; the examiner must check specifically for these things from those test results.
Any employer looking to use a urine test for employees would do well to check with a lawyer first to make sure their actions are protected by law. An employer does himself or herself no favors in misusing the results of a urine test even if they think they're helping their business in some way. Civil suits can be costly, so it's good to make sure your actions are legal before you even begin administering these tests!