Drugs

The 10 Biggest Companies That Spare Their Employees the Humiliation of Drug Testing

These companies care about the quality of one's work, not the state of one's urine.

The Facebook campus, Menlo Park, CA
Photo Credit: Creative Commons/Wikimedia

For the past 35 or so years, millions of American workers have had to submit to a humiliating, privacy-invading procedure to get or keep a job: the urine sample drug test. As hard as it may be to imagine, it wasn't always like that—and it isn't like that in the rest of the world.

We can thank the Gipper. Mass worker drug testing is yet another dark legacy of the Reagan era. The practice began taking off as a drug war adjunct after Reagan required it for federal employees in 1986 and Congress passed the Drug-Free Workplace Act the same year. That law required any business receiving federal dollars to implement a drug testing program.

According to the American Management Association, 21 percent of employers required drug tests in 1987, but as the drug war broadened under Reagan and his 1990s successors, that figure jumped to 81 percent by 1996.

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Thanks to that drug war impetus, we have seen the growth of a "drug testing industrial complex" consisting of "drug test manufacturers, consulting and law firms specializing in the development of work-place drug testing policies and practices, and laboratories that carry out the testing," as SUNY Buffalo researcher Michael Frone explained in his book Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use in the Workforce and Workplace.

It's now a global industry with annual revenue somewhere around $3 billion this year, but employee drug testing remains overwhelmingly an American phenomenon, with the U.S. market accounting for about three-quarters of those revenues. Somehow, the industrial bases of the European Union, Japan, and other major economic powers survive without resorting to such invasive worker surveillance techniques.

But even here in the land of the free, employee drug testing looks to be on the decline, mainly because there is very little evidence that it actually improves either workplace safety or productivity. And at an average cost of $50 per drug test, employers end up paying an awful lot of money to catch a very small number of working drug users. As a result, the percentage of employers now requiring drug testing has declined to 57 percent, covering 40 percent of the American work force, according to a recent poll by the Society for Human Resource Management.

As pre-employment and random, suspicionless drug testing of workers hopefully goes the way of the dodo bird, here, thanks to the good folks at InsiderMonkey, are the 10 biggest companies that do not engage in workplace drug testing.

1. Apple

The world's largest company based on market capitalization does not drug test its workers. The tech giant has no known drug testing policy and its website says nothing on the issue, which is in line with the company's penchant for secrecy and silence. Silicon Valley firms in general are not big fans of drug testing because they'd rather have the best and the brightest than the straightest.

2. Google

Officially known as Alphabet Inc., the country's second-largest multinational is just as keen on drug testing as Apple, and for largely the same reasons. Both are headquartered in pot-friendly California, and both seek tech workers who tend to range politically from liberal to libertarian.

3. Microsoft

Another legal-pot-state-based tech giant that does not drug test employees. It doesn't explicitly say there is no drug testing, but there isn't.

4. Facebook

Another tech giant, another Silicon Valley company that does not drug test its employees.

5. Starbucks

The company makes its fortune on legal stimulants, is located in a legal pot state and tends to hire a lot of young people. It provides good benefits packages and doesn't bother to drug test.

6. QUALCOMM

This semiconductor and telecommunications behemoth vets its potential employees carefully, requiring at least two technical interviews before hiring, but it doesn't test people for drugs.

7. Chipotle

The fast-growing burrito chain operates more than 2,300 restaurants worldwide and does most of its pre-interview procedures online. It doesn't drug test its employees. 

8. Whole Foods Market

This organic foods leader has 462 stores in the U.S., UK and Canada, and it doesn't subject its employees to pre-employment drug testing. However, some employees hired to work with heavy equipment may face drug tests.

9. Twitter

The news and social networking website has great benefits packages for workers, but doesn't drug test employees. It is in San Francisco, after all.

10. Gap

Gap had one store in 1971. Now it has more than 400 franchise stores, and another 3,300 stores worldwide carry its iconic brands, such as Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta. The company doesn't mention employee drug testing on its policy or career pages and apparently does not test them, either.

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Phillip Smith has been a drug policy journalist for the past two decades. Smith is currently a senior writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute