Employers do everything they can to ensure that the employees they hire are reliable non-criminals. They have a vested interest in you coming to work every day, getting along with your coworkers, and not doing anything that would make the company look bad. So, understandably, most employers don’t want drug addicts and alcoholics on staff.

But that also doesn’t give them a right to test employees at random or whenever they want to. Here in California, mostly employers are not allowed to administer or require drug tests. There are actually only a few situations where they are allowed to use drug tests, and knowing what these are can help you defend your rights in all other situations.

Today, we’re here to highlight exactly when your employer is allowed to test you for drugs or alcohol.

Allowing for Prescriptions

For all of you worried about your Vicodin, marijuana, or antihistamines, you can relax. California has a Compassionate Use law that requires employers not to hold prescription medicine against someone in a drug test. If you have been prescribed a controlled substance to treat a medical condition, then results that reveal your prescription use will not be considered disqualifications for any drug test.

Job Applicant Screening

The first situation where employers are allowed to do drug screening is hiring. But they can’t have everyone perform a drug test. In fact, employers can only require a drug test after all interviews and final negotiations are through and they have made a job offer. The offer can then be contingent on the results of the drug test. Both parties agree on the offer and — only then — can you be asked to submit to drug testing. They also must test every candidate who is offered this position, not selectively choose who will be tested.

For Annual Checkups

Most employers have the right to require their staff to do one physical checkup per year. You see the doctor they ask you to see. You stick out your tongue. Maybe run a few steps. Most employers don’t take advantage of this option. But if they did, they could also ask you to go through one annual drug test during this checkup.

But only if they give you written notice that the checkup will include a drug test. And only if that notice comes two weeks or more before the checkup itself.

Expectation of Privacy

In the workplace, you may have something called an ‘Expectation of Privacy’. What this means is that, in your job, you can reasonably expect not to be bothered about your health, what you’ve eaten or drank, or what you do in your off time. Some jobs have less ‘expectation of privacy’ than others. Any job where you wear a body cam, for example, has no expectation of privacy during body-cam hours.

A bus driver — who is responsible for the lives of children and is in a crowded bus all day — has less expectation of privacy than an accountant in a private office. So if an employer wants to demand a drugs and alcohol test, their justification is weighed legally against your expectation of privacy.

Reasonable Suspicion of Drug Use

Employers -are- allowed to require a spontaneous drug test if they have reasonable suspicion of drug use. But stop there, because ‘Reasonable Suspicion’ is a legal term not open to wide interpretation. Your employer needs evidence that would hold up in court. And, indeed, you could take the to court.

An employee seeming down and distracted is not reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol use. Empty bottles in their desk drawer would be. The strength of your employer’s evidence would also be weighed against your expectation of privacy. Seeming disoriented at work may well be enough to test the bus driver, but not the accountant.

Security and Random Testing

Of course, sometimes a job really does require you to be fully sober and capable 100% of the time. For these positions, employers may be allowed to enact random drug testing. But usually not for the entire facility, just key employees whose performance quality is incredibly important to the role. And possibly to the lives and security of others.

Surgeons, bodyguards, and powerline technicians to name three very different jobs that all have a very high security requirement. And, of course, everyone with an actual government security clearance. If a job requires a great deal of attention and/or security, there is a chance that your employer will be legally permitted and choose to enact random drug testing.

If your employer is asking staff to submit to drug tests, it’s important to know your rights. There are very few situations where drug tests are appropriate in the workplace. Only if one of the above listed qualifications is true can your employer ask even one person to take a drug test. Especially if there was no warning or information that this would be required as part of the job.

Here at Aiman-Smith and Marcy, we have spent years defending professionals from unfair employment practices. Whether your employer is breaking the law on purpose or is simply making a terrible management mistake, you can make it right by getting an employment lawyer involved. For more information about your rights involving workplace drug testing or to consult on your own workplace situation, contact us today!

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986