President Signs Legislation Nullifying Rule Limiting Circumstance for Drug Testing by States for Unemployment Insurance Systems

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

President Donald J. 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 insurance systems.

The president’s action stops a 2016 rule drawn up by the department’s Employment and Training Administration, based on a 2012 law. The rule narrowly limited the circumstances under which drug testing may be carried out and constrained 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 August 1, 2016; it became effective on September 30, 2016.

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