Michigan laws will block unemployment benefits for failed drug test

Via LA Times

Via LA Times

Over at theGrio.com, I reported today that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has just signed into law a new package of laws that allow business to report failed drug tests that job seekers submit as part of the interview process. Job seekers who fail or refuse mandatory drug tests will have their unemployment benefits blocked. 

Via theGrio.com:

On Tuesday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a new package of bills into law that would reform the state’s unemployment benefit program.

The new laws would impact job seekers who failed company administered drug tests.  If reported, job seekers who fail or refuse to take required drug tests would lose their unemployment benefits.

In a statement, Governor Snyder said, “These are necessary updates to make sure Michigan is in line with federal requirements.  They will also help strengthen the unemployment insurance system by reducing fraud.”  The new program is a test run that will last for a year.

The focus on potential drug use among the uninsured as a basis to deny them benefits is a controversial, Republican backed policy that often maligns those who are unemployed and in need of government assistance.  The package titled Public Act 146 of 2013 allows businesses the choice to report failed drug results with the government.  Businesses are not required under the new laws to report failed drug tests, but if they do report the results to the state, those individuals who do fail will stand to lose their unemployment benefits.

Essentially, what these types of laws do is criminalize people for being poor or unemployed. People on government assistance aren’t statistically more likely to be drug users, and no data suggests that this is an effective way to find and rehabilitate drug users. It’s just plain ol’ stigmatization.

Zerlina MaxwellZerlina Maxwell really wants to be a superhero, but will settle for blogging.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/talulah42900/ Alisha Walker

    I wonder if there is any distinction between the different kinds of drug tests that companies can require… I know someone who failed a hair test because he’d smoked pot YEARS prior. He hadn’t touched anything in years, but he still failed it. Does this mean that anyone who has ever done any drug could be ineligible for benefits? Also, what if you decide to refuse a drug test for a reason other than drug use? This is ridiculous.

  • http://feministing.com/members/alexs/ Alex

    Hmm this is interesting. I’m not sure I agree with your assessment of the situation as criminalizing people for being poor. I mean, drugs are illegal. Regardless of how we feel about that, in this moment in time, they are illegal. So really, if people don’t want to get in some sort of trouble, they should stay away from drugs. I’m sure this law comes from a place of “all people on unemployment are lazy drug addicts”, which I don’t agree with. But since the majority of people on unemployment are not on drugs, then the majority of people will not be penalized. Only those who participate in an illegal activity will be penalized.