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Corporations Drug Testing Policies: Walmart, McDonalds, Google


The bigger the corporation, the larger the liability should an accident occur at work. Maintaining compliance with worker’s compensation and insurance companies is the primary reason companies continue to require drug testing for their employees. Yet, as cannabis legalization sweeps the nation and decriminalization efforts are being made across the globe, will mega corps relax their laws? Does Walmart drug test? Are there any corporations that don’t drug test?

Although there are still considerable liabilities when modeling organizations like Amazon drug testing policies, perhaps there is a middle ground. Here’s what we know about federal and state drug testing laws, and a highlight of a few mega-corporations current policies.

State and Federal Drug Testing Laws

There is plenty of confusing crossover with state and federal laws. For example, consider cannabis. Every state has the right to establish its own rules and regulations surrounding the legality of medical and adult-use marijuana. But, even in states with legal weed, the federal government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is fully illegal. 

While this seems nonsensical, cannabis isn’t the only situation where this occurs. Drug testing also falls into this wishy-washy category of state vs. federal mandates. Every state has the right to implement its own laws about employee drug testing. However, there are several federal jobs that require clean tests, even if you live and work in a state with legal cannabis. 

Federal Jobs Requiring Drug Testing

Despite your personal beliefs about drug legality and personal use, there are certainly some jobs that require a clear head that comes with sobriety. While it might not impact your daily life to be checked out by a stoned cashier at the grocery store, you probably don’t want the pilot of your airplane to be high on cocaine. 

Federal employees who work in law enforcement, public health, national security, and public transportation among others must pass pre-employment drug testing and are subject to randomized drug testing. 

State-by-State Drug Testing

States in favor of drug testing employees usually have three reasons for doing so:

  1. Pre-employment drug testing: The conditions to begin your employment require a negative drug test. This typically happens once you’ve been offered a job to prevent discrimination by asking for a passing result before your initial interview.
  2. Random drug testing: Many private employers enforce a drug-free workplace. To encourage employees to uphold these values, random drug testing is imposed. While most often a threat more than anything, some companies do choose to test each employee at random times annually or bi-annually depending on their job description and responsibilities.
  3. Drug testing due to suspicious behavior: Should an employee exhibit signs of intoxication while on the job, employers may request a drug test. There is usually a short window of opportunity to take the test as employers want to be able to catch a particular substance within a window of detection. 

There are some states that have no specific laws about employee drug testing. They are referred to as “open states” and while it might sound nice to work in these states, employers actually have more authority to give randomized drug tests without warning. This gives employees less protection or time to plan how to pass a drug test

Walmart’s Drug Testing Policy

Walmart is the largest big-box retailer across the globe with over 11,000 stores in 27 countries. As of 2022, Walmart rarely requests pre-employment drug screening for any entry-level positions, in addition to management or senior positions. However, you may be asked to take a pre-employment drug test after you’ve been offered a job in certain departments. For example, the deli, pharmacy, and all positions in the auto center have strict policies and safety guidelines. 

In addition to the slight potential of pre-employment drug screening, Walmart reserves the right to periodically drug test employees on the grounds of suspicious behavior, inability to perform their job, or as a follow-up test after a workplace incident. 

If an employee refuses to take a requested drug test, Walmart considers this to be the equivalent of a positive test result and will act according to their company discipline policy on a case by case basis.

McDonald’s Drug Testing Policy

McDonald’s employs over 200,000 people worldwide and presents itself as a drug- and alcohol-free workplace. As of 2022, Mcdonald’s does not have a company-wide drug testing requirement, however, franchise owners can establish their own testing requirements. The large majority of franchisees do not require pre-employment drug testing.

Most often, drug tests are only required under specific circumstances. If any employee is suspected to be intoxicated while at work, McDonald’s reserves the right to test the employee to verify. Signs of intoxications are listed as slurred speech, dilated pupils, and irrational behavior. If the employee is found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will be terminated. 

In the event of a workplace accident or injury, McDonald’s requires a drug test to maintain compliance with worker’s compensation laws. Regardless of the reason for testing, McDonald’s pays for the cost of all testing, including your personal travel time. Ultimately, it’s highly likely that as a McDonald’s employee, you will be subject to a random drug test at some point during your employment. 

Google’s Drug Testing Policy

Google is one of the four globally acclaimed tech giants, employing roughly 140,000 people worldwide. Working for Google is a dream job for many coders, designers, and engineers that they probably wouldn’t balk at any kind of drug testing mandates. Fortunately for anyone applying to work with Google they can rest easy knowing that they will never have to take a drug test to maintain employment. 

Google does not require pre-employment drug testing, nor do they perform randomized drug testing. It’s difficult to get your foot in the door at Google as is, so if your work ethic and expertise are top-notch, that’s enough of a qualifier. 

It doesn’t hurt that Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley, surrounded by cannabis-friendly culture. However, they also wish to respect other global cultures as they hire employees worldwide. In many cultures, it is considered rude or impolite to request a passing drug test, so many multinational mega corporations simply do not include drug testing into any company policy.

Final Thoughts

There can’t be a one-size-fits-all drug testing policy. There is a need to test in some circumstances. Not only to prevent accidents in the workplace but to identify and offer support in the case of substance abuse disorders. 
Most people can agree that many drugs can be abused and that there is a lot of work to be done when establishing drug laws at work. The first step would be to declassify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug and adjust drug testing panels to eliminate THC from producing a failing test. Until then, choose your jobs wisely, and keep a detox kit or drink on hand in the event you find yourself facing a test anytime soon.


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