The drug-testing industry is a multibillion dollar profit center. And
a giant weapon in the War on Drugs. So don't be surprised if you have
to pony up prior to your next job interview.

So, you're looking for a job, one of the zillion workers who got the
pink slip in recent months since the boom went bust. Or you're a
recent graduate, about to get a full-time job for the first time. Or
you're sick of your old job - the place has gotten too corporate,
management is starting job evaluations or some other type of torture,
you feel unappreciated and underpaid - and you just want out.

So, you get your resume polished, hustle up some references and head
out into the proverbial job market with your proverbial hat in hand.
Better save the other hand for forking over an all-too-real cup of
urine. Yours.

Drug testing. It's here and it's big.

"Drug testing is by far the norm," says a proponent, Mark A. de
Bernardo, head of the Institute for a Drug-Free Workplace in
Washington, D.C., a nonprofit coalition of 120 major employers from
across the country, and a director of San Francisco's Littler
Mendelson, an employment law firm that claims to be the nation's
biggest. "Anybody getting out of high school and college or switching
jobs should expect to be drug tested."

"Many workers now do it without thinking twice," says Ethan
Nadelmann, head of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation in
New York City, which advocates for drug policy reform, including an
end to drug testing. "In some respects, drug testing is rapidly
becoming as much a national tradition as mom and apple pie."

And if you don't pass the drug test - no matter how smart you are,
how hard-working, how experienced, how fab your references, how
downright likable you are - you won't get the job.

That's true even here in so-called Mellow California and the liberal
Bay Area, historically in the vanguard when it comes to drug
experimentation and tolerance, both culturally and legally. If
anything, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May that reaffirmed the
illegality of pot - even the medicinal marijuana that was championed
in the state's Proposition 215 - shows how strong the anti-drug
sentiment still is in the country.

Little wonder, then, that drug testing has become part of the typical
job application, with millions of wannabe workers tested each year.
Most often it's a urine test, but even strands of hair, a few drops
of saliva, a vial of blood or a week's worth of sweat on a skin patch
are being demanded to check for drugs in your system, from pot to the
hard stuff.

The trend, now in its 15th year, has spawned a $5.9 -billion industry
in drug-testing labs, a burgeoning underground economy in guerrilla
counter-labs and mom-and-pop Web sites that peddle products that
swear to fake-out the tests, some two-dozen state laws, and a slew of
court cases challenging the drug-test habit on privacy and Fourth
Amendment issues.

What happened?

One Cup At A Time

At first, only the military did drug testing, and civilians were
pretty much spared the need to pee in a cup to impress the boss. But
then along came President Ronald Reagan and all that 1980s chatter to
"Just Say No." Middle America was snorting coke up the ying-yang,
drug hysteria was in full swing and the War on Drugs was turning into
another Vietnam. Enter Reagan's Executive Order 12564, which made
drug abstinence - on and off-duty - a condition of federal
employment. Reagan's rule set guidelines for drug-testing programs.
The Pandora's Box was now officially open. The war on drugs was gonna
be fought on the home front, in corporate bathrooms, one pee cup at a
time.

It wasn't long before everyone was jumping on the bandwagon. In 1988,
Congress passed the Drug Free Workplace Act, which said that any
company that wanted a lucrative federal contract had better test its
workers for drugs. States dangled similar carrots. A few years later,
in 1991, Congress got into the drug-testing act again, requiring drug
tests - including random tests - for anybody in safety-sensitive
positions, like airline pilots, truck drivers, train and bus
conductors. Meanwhile, the drug-testing craze spread into other
sectors. School athletes, welfare recipients, folks on probation or
parole - the kinds of people authority figures wanted to keep tabs on
- were suddenly being ordered to take drug tests to maintain their
privileges.

But by far, the widest spread was in the private work sector,
especially as a condition of getting hired. In the first decade since
Reagan's order, drug testing was up 277 percent, says the American
Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the practice. Though top
executives typically get to bypass that step in the job interview,
companies that require drug testing usually require it of everyone
else who wants to work there, according to experts, whether
blue-collar or white-collar. That means assembly-line workers and
secretaries. Computer analysts and bankers. Salesclerks and even the
guy bagging groceries at the neighborhood supermarket.

These days, companies that test for drugs are a who's who of big
business in every industry. General Motors tests for drugs. So does
Bank of America, at least sometimes. Intel. Wal-Mart. Anheuser-Busch.
Safeway. The San Francisco Chronicle. Home Depot and Ikea even have
signs on their doors trumpeting that they have a drug-free workplace.

At first, drug testing caused a stir, with civil rights advocates and
labor unions and editorials lambasting the perceived invasion of
privacy. Lawsuits led to court cases and, in some states, some
legislative curbs. In California, the State Supreme Court has frowned
on drug testing on current employees, either as random tests or as
requirements for job promotions. In 1986, San Francisco became the
nation's first city to ban random testing outright. But across the
state, including San Francisco, workers in safety-sensitive jobs like
transportation are still subjected to the random testing required in
the federal Department of Transportation guidelines. And there's no
statewide or city ban on testing prospective hires, the belief being
that the applicant has the freedom to choose not to apply for the job.

But even with some legal curbs, drug testing has still quietly mushroomed.

All told, 67 percent of the nation's largest companies test their
employees or applicants for drugs, according to a 2001 survey by the
American Management Association, a New York consulting firm that
claims to have 7,000 corporate clients representing one-fourth of the
U.S. workforce. And though the percentage of companies who test is
down from its peak - 81 percent in 1996 - it still means that each
year, millions of workers are giving more than just their best effort
to the job.

Poppy Bagels Not An Excuse

The result is that drug testing is big business. Just one
drug-testing company, SmithKline Beecham, now called GlaxoSmithKline,
did 24 million drug tests in a decade, from 1988 to 1998, according
to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Though one of the nation's largest labs, they're hardly alone in what
Standard & Poor's values as a $5.9 billion industry. The Drug &
Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA), based in Washington
D.C., has 1,100 members, including drug labs, collection facilities
and equipment makers. And its membership roster, says its executive
director, Laura Norfolk, "is just the tip of the iceberg."

Two firms - PharmChem, a giant urine-testing lab which was based in
Menlo Park until June, when it relocated to Texas, and Psychemedics,
the nation's leading hair-testing facility, based in Culver City (Los
Angeles County) - alone do $60 million in business.

Urine tests, the most popular, cost an average of $20 to $25 per
sample. Hair, the latest fad because it can track a longer history of
drug use, costs about $50.

Even drug-test opponents admit that the technology these days makes a
false positive reading rare. Gone are the days when a test positive
for heroin, for example, could theoretically be blamed on eating a
couple of poppy seed bagels.

At the minimum, each sample is tested for what is called the Big
Five: pot, cocaine (including crack), methamphetamines (including its
cousins, amphetamines and Ecstasy), PCP (also known as angel dust),
and opiates (like heroin and morphine). Employers don't usually ask
for the sample to be tested for prescription drugs, drug labs say.
They also don't typically screen for alcohol or cigarette use, since
they are legal.

A urine test can detect the residue, called metabolites, of hard-core
drugs up to about 72 hours after use, but heavy pot users are usually
tagged with the telltale THC chemical in their system for as much as
three to four weeks. That means pot users are more likely to get
caught than hard-core heroin or cocaine addicts.

With hair tests, drug labs claim that the hair shafts of a 60-strand,
1.5- inch sample that's snipped close to the scalp can trace drug use
going back three months. And in case the job applicant is bald or
decides to get a crew cut before the drug test, the hair can be
snipped from another part of the body. And that doesn't mean your
knuckles.

Because false positives can't be counted on, wannabe workers who do
drugs try to outfox the tests. The most common way is to quit the
drugs cold turkey as soon as they know they're facing a drug test,
and then drink gallons and gallons of water for days before the test,
hoping to flush the metabolites from their system. But many turn to a
slew of companies they find advertised in High Times magazine or on
the Internet. Each company claims to sell just the right product that
will come to the rescue and help land that job.

With hilarious names and Web sites - www.urineluck.com,
www.testingclean.com, www.passyourdrugtest.com, www.ezklean.com -
these companies sell adulterants such as nitrites and bleach,
diuretics, synthetic urine, chemically treated shampoos, herbal
concoctions and a slew of other products.

Naturally, drug testing labs pooh-pooh the saboteurs' claims. But
that still doesn't stop them from checking out High Times and
scouring the Internet, and buying the products to test them out in
their labs - just in case.

"You look at High Times when you want to know what the other side's
thinking," says Ray Kelly, an Oakland forensic toxicologist who for
seven years ran the urine and hair testing lab at Associate
Pathologists Laboratories in Las Vegas. "In the chess game of drug
testing, when they make a move, we have to respond to a move."

"We change and improve our formulas every six to 12 months to stay
ahead of the labs," says Kevin Pressler, marketing manager of
Cincinnati's urineluck. com, whose 10 products each sell for $32.
"It's an inevitable cat-and-mouse game."

Counter-labs like urineluck.com have to keep changing their secret
ingredients because once the drug labs spot them, they test for the
new chemicals. Alas for the worker wannabe if adulterants or any sign
of tampering is found in the sample: Drug labs say they automatically
mark the sample as coming up positive for drugs - even if the only
evidence is the attempted camouflage.

Good For America

Against this backdrop, two surveys suggest it's all much ado about
nothing. For starters, the National Academy of Sciences concluded in
1994, after a three-year study, that there was no scientific evidence
that drug tests ensure safety and productivity on the job. Secondly,
companies who test for drugs seem to be going on blind faith that the
tests live up to their goals. In 1996, the American Management
Association, a pro-employer group, asked if companies had any
"statistical evidence" that drug tests had an effect on accidents,
illness, disability claims, theft or violence. Only 8 percent of the
companies with drug-testing programs had done any cost-benefit
analysis to see if their own programs worked.

One Silicon Valley company that did follow up was Hewlett-Packard.
The Palo Alto computer and office equipment company tested applicants
for a decade, from 1990 till last year, says Randy Lane, a spokesman.
But so few applicants tested positive, he says, that the company
dropped the policy as not being worth the cost.

Hewlett-Packard started drug testing because, says Lane,
"Essentially, all of our competitors were doing it."

That's a big reason companies do adopt drug testing policies, says de
Bernardo, and why they should. Companies don't want drug abuser
rejects, he says, who couldn't get jobs elsewhere.

It's no surprise that the folks whose business is drug testing claim
that drug testing is good for companies, good for workers, good for
America.

"Employers have the single most effective weapon in the war on drugs:
the paycheck," says de Bernardo. "It's a ripple effect. It's a
success story as far as the community is concerned . We want a
drug-free society."

But improving society is not the major corporate agenda behind drug
testing, proponents admit. It's money. They claim that employee drug
use costs companies big money, in loss of productivity and safety, in
absenteeism, and in health and insurance costs, even when the drug
use is marijuana at home on the weekends. The danger of marijuana use
is that it's a gateway to harder drugs, says de Bernardo. Though most
pot users don't graduate to harder drugs, he says, folks don't
usually do heroin and cocaine without first doing pot.

"Some people don't go through that gate, some do. ...For some people,
it will progress from Saturday night to midweek to more serious
drugs," he says.

What's more, he and others add, even marijuana use is illegal, and
companies have the right to know if an applicant or employee is
engaged in illegal activity.

"Any illegal drug use is illegal" says Bill Thistle, general
counsel for Psychemedics. "I think an employer has the right to
expect you not to engage in felony behavior (even) on the weekend."

Actually, marijuana use is a misdemeanor. And in San Francisco,
District Terence Hallinan has said repeatedly over the years that his
office wouldn't prosecute anyone for smoking pot.

Big Business As Big Brother

On the flip side, drug testing has sent groups involved in civil
rights and drug policy reform into a tizzy. To them, drug testing
smacks of Big Business posing as Big Brother poking around in private
lives.

"There's no end to that, the employer being a policeman," says Cliff
Palefsky, a San Francisco civil rights and employment lawyer who
wrote the city's ordinance banning random testing. "It's the most
intrusive search, to literally penetrate your body fluids, search
your chemistry, and determine what you have ingested."

If someone shows up at work clearly stoned, then test that one
person, he and other drug-test opponents say. But don't suspect
everyone by making everyone get tested. That's like having cops
search everyone's home just in case there's a criminal - which goes
to the heart of the Fourth Amendment's protection against
unreasonable searches, albeit by government.

"Privacy is an important issue. To us, it's fundamental," says Lewis
Maltby, head of the National Workrights Institute, a research and
advocacy group on workplace issues based in Princeton, N.J., and the
former director of the ACLU National Task Force on Civil Liberties in
the Workplace. "You don't search someone's body and personal life
unless you have some grounds to think they've done something wrong."

"Has anyone ever heard of reference checks? Wouldn't that tell you
more about their work habits than having them pee in a bottle?"

What's more, opponents add, drug tests don't distinguish between the
occasional and the habitual user. A drug test shows only the residue
of drugs that have been taken in the past three days to a month, not
which drugs are actively in the person's system at the time of the
test. So if companies are worried about safety and productivity, says
Palefsky, they should be giving impairment tests - simple computer
video games that gauge such things as eye- hand coordination,
reflexes and concentration - each day they show up for work,
not drug tests before they get hired.

"Drug tests for public safety is a fallacy," he says. "Impairment
tests test for safety."

Besides, drug test opponents add, other personal problems can explain
poor worker performance: fatigue, marital woes, shaky finances,
watching "I Love Lucy" reruns at 3 a.m. - and hangovers from
drinking. If employers can check if workers are using drugs after
hours, civil rights advocates say, what other areas of personal lives
can they investigate?

Rules And Procedures

Even toxicologists and others involved in drug testing voice concern.

Janet Weiss, a medical toxicologist at the University of California
at San Francisco who does drug-testing consultations for companies,
the courts and government agencies, says she's opposed to drug
testing in the workplace because "They don't do what they're supposed
to do." Studies haven't shown that testing improves productivity or
saves employers money, she says. And she finds drug testing
"demeaning."

"What it patently means is that the employer doesn't want 'the wrong
element' contaminating his/her workplace," she says, in an e-mail,
"and you have to 'prove' you are innocent (of using drugs)."

Carolina Da Valle spent several years at a San Francisco medical
clinic where job applicants would go to give urine samples. Her job
was to set up the procedures for them to follow.

"I found it dehumanizing and humiliating to witness individuals
having to urinate in a cup - knowing a nurse was standing an inch
outside the door -- listening to every drop of urine fall into the
cup..." she says in an e-mail.

"The guilty ones were easy to spot: very nervous, in a hurry, usually
with an almost ready-to-burst bladder due to excessive water drinking
in the hopes of passing a surely positive drug screen off as a
negative one."

The procedures at medical clinics and other collection facilities
usually follow the strict guidelines set up by the federal Department
of Transportation. Halle Weingarten, a forensic toxicologist who is
one of the owners of Independent Toxicology Services in San Jose,
spent 19 years as the chief forensic toxicologist at the Santa Clara
crime lab. She says there are more rules and paperwork involved in
handling a cup of urine than just about any evidence that came
through her old police crime lab.

In drug testing, the big concern is called Chain of Custody, she
says, meaning that, "You want to make sure the sample that's tested
is the sample that came from John Doe."

As soon as the worker comes into her clinic, she checks their photo
ID. A form is filled out with five multicarbon copies, with the
worker's name, address, Social Security number, date, time and the
name of the lab technician,
known officially as the Collector. The worker is asked to remove his
outer garments like jackets and coats, and leave his bags outside the
bathroom. He then follows her in, and washes his hands in front of
her. She next prepares the bathroom: she removes the soap so it can't
be added to the urine to adulterate it; she tapes shut the water
faucets and adds a blue chemical to the toilet bowl so water can't be
added to the urine to dilute it. She then picks up a plastic opaque
cup with a rim that's 3 inches wide. The cup is sealed with a lid.
She opens it in front of the worker, hands him the cup, and warns him
not to turn on the faucet or flush the toilet until she gives him
permission. The worker then goes into the bathroom. She stands
outside the door.

As soon as he comes back out with the cup, now filled with urine, she
checks the faucets and toilet to make sure they haven't been used.
She then checks the outside of the cup. There is a thermometer strip
on it that goes from 90 to 100 degrees. The urine in the cup must be
body temperature. If it is, the thermometer strip has a brightly
colored spot. She checks for the spot,
and notes it on the paperwork. Then, as the worker bears witness, she
transfers the urine into two vials of about an ounce each. She adds a
tamper- proof seal to each vial, initials them, dates them and asks
the worker to sign each one. The vials then go in a sealed pouch,
with the paperwork attached in an outside pocket in case of spillage.
The worker is now allowed to go back in the bathroom to wash up and
flush the toilet. Signed and sealed, the package of vials need to be
delivered overnight to a drug testing lab like PharmChem or
Psychemedics. The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

Most who come in seem resigned to it, she says.

"It's a fact of life," she says. "It's the way things are."

A Matter Of Principle

Still, though resigned, workers aren't exactly turning cartwheels
about drug tests. Drug users are understandably reluctant to take a
drug test and risk losing out on a job, especially in these days of
massive layoffs and hiring freezes. But even those who claim not to
do drugs say they're opposed to the test on principle.

Lowell Moorcroft, an Oakland man who is in his 50s, says he was
stunned recently when asked to sign a document agreeing to be tested
for drugs when he applied for a data analyst job at a major HMO. It
was the first time he's been asked in 30 years of work. He refused to
sign, he says, because he was offended.

"It has nothing to do with the job, which is intellectual,
professional and sedentary," he says in an e-mail. "It is invasive,
demeaning, inegalitarian (i. e., are executives tested?)."

James Weissman, 44, a computer programmer who lives in Mountain View,
has been asked to take a drug test only once in some 20-plus years
and some 15 jobs. The request was in 1991, for a small data analysis
company. He was out of work at the time and wanted the job, but he
squawked when the drug test requirement was sprung on him at the end
of the job interview. It was, he recalls, "Oh, one more thing,"
resume is great, you're great, we just need you to pee in a cup.

"I said 'You've got to be kidding. I'm not operating heavy equipment
here. I'm operating a computer,' " Weissman told the job interviewer.

To Weissman, asking him to pee in a cup was like the company telling
him it didn't trust him - even though he says he gave his word that
he didn't do drugs.

Weissman demanded to speak to the human resources director, hoping he
could reason with him. What he found most maddening about the
conversation, he says, was the director's inability to explain why
the drug test was required other than the fact that it was company
policy. To Weissman, it was like a parent telling a kid he had to do
something "Because."

"This was very anti-worker," he says. "It was 'We're going to impose
an arbitrary rule on you. And we're not going to take your word for
it.' If one person could justify it to me, no problem. But 'Well,
it's our policy. 'Well, look, it's written down here' is not enough
of an explanation. Why not bowel cavity inspections? You have to draw
the line. You do not intrude, period."

Still, Weissman needed the job. He took the test, and the job.

"When push came to shove, I conceded," he says.

Drug Free In A Hurry

But for those who do drugs, it's more than principle that's at stake.
With a drug test looming, it's a crash course to get clean.

Jason Everley, 30, a San Francisco computer consultant, says in an
e-mail he can't count how many drug tests he's passed, given 72
hours' notice. His secret: "Drink lots of water and eat like a bird
for three days. You'll end up pissing every relevant, detectable
chemical out of your system."

But for others, a drug test means panic. With a urine test,
metabolites for anything but pot will usually flush out of the system
within a few days of abstinence, drug labs say. But with hair testing
- the latest fad, with Psychemedics claiming 2,000 clients - drug use
is harder to hide. Hair testing is controversial, with opponents
claiming the dark, coarse hair of African Americans and many ethnic
groups gives disproportionately high readings.

Many who face a drug test turn to companies who pledge
get-clean-quick products. Urineluck.com not only sells Bake N Shake
(at the test, pee in a plastic bag, shake it up, pour it in the cup,
leaving the telltale drug toxins behind) and Urine Luck (a urine
adulterant which zaps the drugs in the cup), but offers a chat room
for folks to gripe and ask anxious questions. Other Web sites post
what they say are testimonials from working stiffs who owe their jobs
to the company's products.

High Times has a hot line, started in 1989, that claims it's given
150,000 callers, at $1.95 a minute, recorded advice on how to pass
drug tests. Even Yippie activist Abbie Hoffman got into the act, in
his book titled "Steal This Urine Test," with instructions on how to
smuggle a plastic bag into the testing bathroom to substitute "clean"
urine.

Hoffman's trick sounds a lot like The Whizzinator by Puck Technology,
whose Web site claims it was founded by ex-'60s types. Perhaps the
most famous of the guerrilla tactics, it's a $150 undergarment with a
"bladder," heat pack and dehydrated synthetic urine. To get the fake
piss in the cup, there's a handy-dandy, 3.5 inch prosthetic penis
that's worn, the Web site says, "in front of your standard-issue" one
and that comes in your choice of white, Latino, black, tan or brown.
For women, the penis can be worn on the side to avoid the telltale
bulge.

Despite the humor of such products, many Web sites profess sincerity.
The folks at passyourdrugtest.com describe themselves as "freedom
fighters" who believe in "people's rights to privacy" and that
alternative lifestyles have "little or nothing to do with
contributions you can make to work and society." To test their
products - which include the $169.99 Bi-Cleanse Complete hair-
cleansing shampoo that claims to get rid of toxins in hair shafts -
the company says it flies staff members to Amsterdam every five
months to visit the smoke shops, known as coffee shops, and get
hard-core users to volunteer to test the products. The products
absolutely work, they assure customers. But unlike other Web sites,
passyourdrugtest.com won't give refunds. If you fail your test, the
site says, you obviously weren't following the instructions and it's
your own fault. The company did not reply to an e-mail query.

The drug labs love to mock the products - even as they keep tabs on them.

"We purchase these products to see what they are," says Thistle of
Psychemedics. "It's just nothing. Plain shampoo. Repackaged shampoo.
Prell. Water. Most of them are just rip-offs.

"Who's going to complain? 'Yeah, I was trying to beat the test and
they ripped me off.' ... We just get a chuckle out of it."

Companies Are Bashful

Curiously, companies in the corporate mainstream act as if they're
being asked to pee in public when queried about their testing policy.
Hired mouthpieces get all bashful, citing the indelicacy of
discussing their human resources policies with total strangers. It's
just too private.

Apple, the computer company whose advertising campaign dares folks to
Think Different, declined to discuss the thinking behind their drug
testing policy - or even whether they had one.

"In general, we just don't, you know, talk publicly about our human
resources policy. Publicly we talk about our products," Tamara
Weil-Hearon, a spokeswoman for the Cupertino company, says on a voice
mail message. "Unfortunately, we're not going to participate in the
story."

Chiron, the biotech giant that's quick to trumpet any success in its
research labs, was also demure about whether it turned the urine or
hair of prospective hires into lab experiments.

"We don't comment on our human resources policies," says John
Gallagher, the media relations manager at the Emeryville facility.
"That's our answer."

Martin Forrest, his boss at Chiron, didn't return a call seeking
additional comment. Neither did Debra Lambert, national spokeswoman
for Safeway food stores, which is headquartered in Pleasanton. A
woman answering her phone - who identified herself as "just the
messenger" - relayed that yes, Safeway did do drug tests but that no,
beyond that, any explanation was nobody's business but Safeway's.

Meanwhile, EBay, Oracle, Genentech, Advanced Micro Devices, Yahoo and
Applied Materials, to name the biggies, blew off the calls. Only
Cisco (doesn't test), Sun Microsystems (doesn't test), Intel (does
test), The San Francisco Chronicle (does test), Wells Fargo (doesn't
test in Bay Area, does in other cities), Bank of America (does test,
but only sometimes) and Hewlett- Packard (did test but stopped last
year) responded.

Cisco just says it doesn't but didn't go into it in a voice mail
message from Steve Langdon, one of a flotilla of flaks at the San
Jose networking company. Sun Microsystems doesn't test, says
spokeswoman Diane Carlini, because it wouldn't jibe with the culture
and self-image of the Silicon Valley computer company.

No such self-image worries at Intel. Tracy Koon, director of
corporate affairs for the Santa Clara chipmaker, says in an e-mail:

"Yes we do pre-employment drug testing. The goal of the program is to
bar the habitual abuser of illegal drugs from the workplace. This is
part of our ongoing commitment to maintaining a drug-free workplace.
We began our program in 1992, in strict adherence to the fairness
standards set forth by the Department of Transportation."

Maintaining a drug-free workplace is the thinking behind its testing
of applicants, says Adrianne Cabanatuan, the recruitment manager for
The San Francisco Chronicle, which has been testing most prospective
hires for at least a decade, and began testing wannabe reporters and
editors in June 1996. "We try to preserve a drug-free workplace," she
says, "so that's one step toward it."

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo bank feels it's able to maintain its goal of a
drug- free workplace without pre-employment testing in the Bay Area
and most of the rest of its realm. "For the most part, we don't have
any problems," says spokeswoman Donna Uchida. "If we do, we deal with
it on an individual basis." The company does test, however, in
Milwaukee and in Oregon, she says, where it's the norm among major
employers.

Its competitor, Bank of America, also tests selectively. The company
"reserves the right to drug test -- but I'd hate to say we do it
across the board," says spokeswoman Juliet Don. The decision on
whether to drug test the prospective hire is subjective, based on,
she says,"the role and responsibility of the associate."


Newshawk: http://www.cannabisnews.com/
Pubdate: Sun, 12 Aug 2001
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2001 San Francisco Chronicle
Contact: letters@sfchronicle.com
Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/388
Author: Marianne Costantinou
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/testing.htm (Drug Testing)