Georgia testing policy not catching 'jobless druggies' so far

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The Huffington Post reports Georgia has begun to require drug testing for people who receive unemployment benefits and other public aid. Supporters of these laws have argued that testing is necessary to identify fraud and abuse. Although states are within their rights to deny unemployment benefits if a recipient has been denied a job or lost a job because they failed a drug test. Requiring testing in order to apply for benefits is illegal under federal law.

Georgia businesses have complained recently that they have had trouble finding workers who can pass drug tests. But since February, when the Georgia Department of Labor started encouraging businesses to report job applicants with dirty urine, not a single one has done so.

“We have not received anything since we sent notification to employers and put the website up back in February,” Brenda Brown, director of the department’s unemployment insurance division, said in an interview. “That doesn’t mean we’re not going to get one.”

Federal law does not allow states to require the unemployed to pass drug tests as a condition for receiving unemployment insurance, but it does allow states to deny benefits to workers who fail an employer’s or potential employer’s drug test. Failing a drug test can be interpreted as being unavailable for work, since many businesses require new hires to be clean.

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