Texas to Require Drug Screening for Unemployment Benefits

By Michael Klazema on 6/25/2013

Pre-employment screening is standard practice in many fields, but unemployment screening is a relatively new concept.

Texas Governor Rick Perry recently signed off on Senate Bill 21, which will require individuals receiving unemployment benefits to pass periodic drug tests. The new law will only apply to Texans who work in fields where pre-employment drug testing is mandatory under federal law.

Pre-employment drug testing is required for many fields according to the United States Department of Labor. For example, airline pilots and truck drivers are examples of positions in which drug use could pose a serious safety risk, and therefore drug testing is required.

However, private employers may require drug testing for other positions at their own discretion. Pre-employment drug testing is considered an important part of the background check process, because it can help employers protect themselves from unwittingly hiring an individual who could prove to be a poor performer or even a liability, in the case of drug users who cause accidents at work. With help from, any employer can quickly and easily set up an employee drug screening program using our highly reputable substance abuse testing provider. can provide a full range of pre-employment background check services for private employers. Job candidates with criminal convictions can be identified using’s US OneSEARCH tool, which compares an individual’s name and address against a comprehensive database consisting of records compiled from local offices in every state of the Union, plus DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam.

While criminal convictions are important red flags to look out for in the hiring process, so are lies. Many job candidates lie on their resumes or job applications, making it necessary for employers to use tools like Education and Employment Verification from in order to prove that the candidate is representing their qualifications honestly.

Some lawmakers fear that individuals may be lying about their need for unemployment benefits as well. According to a statement from Perry, the new law is designed to limit the amount of unemployment dollars that are siphoned off by those who misuse the system, and thereby improve the state’s ability to provide support to individuals who are truly in need.

The reasoning for requiring unemployment drug testing is that it proves that the individuals in question are truly dedicated to finding work in their chosen fields. Because drug testing is required for new employment in these fields, obviously an individual must be free of drug use in order to be an effective job seeker. Failure to stay clean indicates a lack of commitment to finding work and a violation of the conditions for receiving unemployment benefits in the eyes of Texas lawmakers.

Unemployment drug screening may also help the individuals currently collecting unemployment and looking for jobs, because it will provide an extra incentive to refrain from drug use. It also helps ensure that, should an individual find a job opportunity, they won’t fail the pre-employment drug test and be denied employment.

According to Dallas lawyer Steve Fink, the new law might also have a small benefit to employers. If the law succeeds in weeding out individuals who are abusing the system, this may result in lowered costs for employers, who fund the unemployment benefits program through taxes.

Detractors of the new law point out that it only affects a small portion of individuals collecting unemployment benefits, and therefore seems more symbolic than practical.


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