An unemployed worker who applies for a job and fails a drug test would lose their benefits under a bill passed in the South Carolina House Wednesday.
The legislation makes it optional for businesses to submit the names of those who failed tests to the South Carolina Department of Employment & Workforce. SCDEW would then be required to prevent that employee from receiving any more jobless benefits.
“To draw unemployment, you must be able and available to go to work,” the bill’s lead sponsor, State Rep. Eddie Tallon (R-Spartanburg), said, “If you fail a drug test, you’ve been offered a job but you are certainly not able and available to work.”
17 Democrats joined all House Republicans in the 93-19 vote. But their peers questioned whether the law would violate privacy rights.
“Where does this end?” State Rep. Joe Neal (D-Columbia) asked rhetorically, “At what point do we say Big Brother is too big?”
The proposal now goes to the Senate, which is extremely unlikely to take it up this year. The House passed a similar bill last year, but it never came up for a vote on the Senate.
This year’s version would make it optional for employers to submit any failed test results to the state. That would include any potential employees who refused to take the test. SCDEW would not be allowed to use the material for any other purpose than to cross-check the employee’s name with its own records.
The bill includes language stating that any samples from a potential hire who is not receiving jobless benefits must be destroyed immediately.