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California state agency weighs changes to pre-employment drug test appeal policy

In a sign of changing norms and attitudes regarding drug use, the California State Personnel Board is considering making minor changes toward its pre-employment drug screening policy.

The proposed regulation would amend state policy concerning when an applicant for a state job is allowed to appeal the results of a failed pre-employment drug test.

Specifically, applicants would be able to appeal a failed test if they can demonstrate that they used the drug legally, or if the appellant can prove that the test result was a false positive resulting from a violation of test protocol, defect in chain of custody or other irregularity.

“The proposed change will provide that an applicant may have grounds for an appeal if they can show that they ‘used’ the drug legally and how the drug was obtained is immaterial,” said California Department of Human Resources spokeswoman Camille Travis in an email.

This proposed rule comes half a year after the State Personnel Board issued a “precedential decision” that a urine test that comes back positive for cannabis use would no longer be grounds for dismissal for most state employees, though police and certain other professions are exempt from that decision. That change came five years after California voters legalized recreational marijuana use when they passed Proposition 64 in 2016.

Current California civil service policy holds that applicants can appeal the failed test if they demonstrate that they obtained the drug legally. Current policy also is subject to different interpretations regarding violations of test protocol, defects in chain of custody or other irregularities that had no possibility of creating a false positive result.

“In other words, the simple fact that a violation, defect, or irregularity occurred may serve as grounds for an appeal regardless of whether it potentially affected the outcome of the drug test,” Travis said. “Ultimately, a defect, violation, or irregularity is only relevant if it caused a false positive test result.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Andrew Sheeler on The Fresno Bee

Published: January 19, 2022

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