If you suffer an injury at work, you are more likely than ever to be tested for drugs and alcohol. (Some of our clients tell us they were forced to pee in a cup even before being offered first aid!) Recent changes to Illinois workers’ comp laws have made it easier for employers to use drug tests to challenge claims.
This does NOT mean that a positive test kills your right to care and compensation! It does mean that you need to know your rights.
A few tips:
1. Don’t refuse a drug test. Current law allows your refusal to take the test to be used as proof of “intoxication.”
2. Remember: “illegal drugs” includes any drug that you don’t have a doctor’s prescription to take – including legal narcotic painkillers, sleep aids or stimulants. Borrowing meds from family and friends can be risky in more ways than one.
3. Do make a list of any drugs you took in the past few days. A wide variety of medicines (and even foods) can produce “false positives” on a urine drug screen, including the ones listed here.
4. Do get an attorney at once if you get a positive test! Even if the employer fires you, you may still have the right to medical care and compensation – but you will need expert advice.
In general, you can’t be denied benefits in Illinois unless your alcohol or drug use was the “proximate cause” of your accident. (It doesn’t have to be the only cause, but your boss must be able to make a case that the accident likely would not have happened if you hadn’t been under the influence.) They can also deny benefits if they can show you were so intoxicated that you were “outside the scope of your employment” – essentially playing hookey while still on the job.
Call EE&A at (312) 226-2650 for a free consultation and advice on defending your rights.