Drug Testing in Minnesota: What You Need to Know

As a Minnesota employee, it’s important for you to know that employers are allowed to test their employees for drugs and alcohol. If you’re concerned about how drug testing in the workplace may impact your employment, it’s important to speak to our experienced Minnesota employment attorneys who can provide advice about your specific situation.

Employers throughout the state of Minnesota are required by law to follow Minnesota’s Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (DATWA). This drug testing statute is one of the strictest in the United States today. It allows employers to test their employees for drugs and alcohol, but places limits on how employers issue testing and the actions they can take when a test is positive. It provides a host of rights for employees that have tested positive that prohibit employers from using those results to terminate employment.

Read on to learn more about drug testing in Minnesota, so you know how to navigate the situation if and when you’re asked to complete a drug test by your employer.


When Can Employees Be Drug Tested In Minnesota? 

DATWA prohibits the arbitrary and capricious testing of employees. It also offers details and guidelines for how and when testing must be carried out, such as:

  • During routine physicals, once a year, with two weeks written notice; 
  • Random testing only  for “safety-sensitive” positions and for professional athletes; 
  • Reasonable suspicion, such as being under the influence at work, violating a company drug or alcohol policy, sustaining or causing an injury or work related accident, and;
  • When undergoing chemical dependency treatment, but only if treatment is with the help and support of the employer.

If your Minnesota employer is requesting a drug test or you’re concerned about whether you may be randomly tested, it’s important to speak with us so you know your rights.   

Testing Requirements for Your Employer  

After an employee is tested, an employer must inform them of their test result within three days of receiving the information. If the employee tests positive, the employer must provide the employee an opportunity to submit information that would explain the results, including a list of over-the-counter and prescription medications they’ve been taking. The employer must also inform the employee of their right to a confirmatory retest of the same sample at the employer’s expense.

If the result is confirmed with a second test, the employer then must offer the employee the opportunity to participate in a rehabilitation or counseling program at the employer’s expense. After all of this has occurred, then and only then can the employee can be terminated for refusing to participate in the program, failing to successfully complete the program, or if this was the second time they’ve tested positive for drugs or alcohol on the job. Employers cannot retaliate against an employee who has  asserted his or her rights under DATWA. 


DATWA Violations and Employee Termination

If your employer has terminated you in violation of DATWA, you have up to six years to bring a cause of action for wrongful termination. If successful, these are the types of compensation you could be awarded at trial: 

  • Back pay from the time of termination to the time of trial—inclusive of lost bonuses, benefits, and commissions;
  • Front pay, which is how much money you would have made after the trial if you had not been terminated and have not totally mitigated your damages—meaning found new employment making more money or equal to the job you were wrongfully terminated from; 
  • A subjective award of emotional distress you suffered as a result of your termination; 
  • Punitive damages if the behavior of your employer was extremely reprehensible; 
  • Attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses.

Get Legal Advice You Can Count On

If you’ve been terminated for testing positive for drugs or alcohol, it’s important to contact an experienced employment attorney immediately. Wrongful termination cases can be challenging to navigate on your own, and our attorneys are here to help. The experienced and fearless legal team at MSB Employment Justice offer free consultations, and if you have a case, will aggressively and zealously represent you against any employer—including any Fortune 500 corporation. We’ve been pitted against corporations of every size, and always achieve successful results.

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Ross Stadheim

Ross Stadheim

Early on in law school, Ross Stadheim discovered his true passion — the plaintiff side of employment law. Embracing a chance to make a meaningful difference, he never looked back. Before becoming a founding partner at MSB Employment Justice, Ross garnered over $29 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients over the past 10 years at his previous firm. See Full Bio

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