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Minneapolis Drug and Alcohol Testing Lawyer

We’re trial lawyers. Our core competency – above everything else – is trying cases to juries. And we specialize in beating giants.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Laboratory Tests

Minnesota Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act

Employers in Minnesota don’t have to test employees for drugs or alcohol. But if they do decide to do a drug or alcohol test, employers need to comply with Minnesota’s Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (DATWA).

DATWA requires employers who want to drug or alcohol test Minnesota employees to comply with a number of requirements:

Notice to Employees of Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy

First, the employer needs to have a written drug and alcohol testing policy that contains the following information:

  • The employees or job applicants subject to testing under the policy;
  • The circumstances under which drug or alcohol testing may be requested or required;
  • The right of an employee or job applicant to refuse to undergo drug and alcohol testing, and the consequences of refusal;
  • Any discipline that the employer may take based on a confirmatory test that verifies a positive test result on an initial screening test; and
  • Any other appeal procedures available.

The employer needs to provide written notice of its drug and alcohol testing policy to all employees.  The employer also needs to post the notice at work at a place where employees can see it.

The Employer has to use a licensed, accredited, or certified lab for the drug or alcohol testing.

Minnesota law requires employers to use a good and reliable lab for drug and alcohol testing of employees.  There have to be good chain of custody procedures in place, and employers can’t test their own employees – they need to use a lab.

Your Employer needs to tell you your rights before administering a drug or alcohol test at work.

Before having an employee take a drug test, the employer needs to provide the employee with a form to sign acknowledging that the employee has seen the company’s drug and alcohol testing policy.

If the employee tests positive or pops on the drug and alcohol test, then the company has to give written notice to the employee of your right to explain the positive test.  The employee can indicate any over-the-counter or prescription medication that that he took that may explain the positive test.

Within 3 days after a positive test, Minnesota employees can submit additional information to the employer to explain the test, or can request a confirmation test of the original sample.

Your employer needs to tell you the test results within 3 days.

Within 3 working days after your test, your employer has to tell you in writing what the results were, and your rights if you tested positive.

You have the right to request the test results report.

Minnesota employees have the right to get a copy of the test results.

You have the right to a confirmation test.

If you test positive for alcohol or drugs, you have the right to request a confirmation test on the same sample.  You have to tell your employer that you want the retest within 5 days of notice of your positive test results.  If the retest doesn’t confirm the original results, your employer can’t take any action against you.

No, not unless they meet some requirements:

First, employers need to do a confirmation test before taking any action at all.

Second, if it’s your first positive result on a drug or alcohol test, then the employer cannot fire you or terminate your employment unless:

  • The company first gave you a chance to get drug or alcohol counseling or treatment; and
  • You refused to participate in the counseling or rehabilitation treatment program, or you failed to successfully complete the program by withdrawing from it before completing it.

However, employers may terminate employees for positive results on a second drug or alcohol test (that needs to be confirmed by a confirmation test also).

This is absolutely a good question to ask as you make a decision on whether to pursue a case in court or not. Starting an employment case is a big decision and you should know what your potential return is for the investment of your time and energy.

The short answer is that the value of your case depends on a lot of things, like:

  • the strength of your case on the merits;
  • the amount of damages you’ve suffered;
  • whether your employer has the ability to pay a large amount; and
  • your tolerance for risk.

We get this question so much that we’ve created a separate, detailed page going through each of these factors, right here

For drug and alcohol testing claims, you may be entitled to back pay and front pay damages, emotional distress compensation, and your attorney fees and costs. You may even be entitled to get your job back.

That’s a tough question to answer because there’s really no “average” settlement.  The value of an employment race discrimination case depends on the strength of the case; the damages the employee suffered; the ability of the employer to pay a large amount (if the employer is insured, even better); and the employee’s tolerance for risk and willingness to go to trial.  Here’s a detailed breakdown of those factors.

But we know that many employees looking for answers right now just want to see some numbers from actual settlements, so here are some numbers.

  • We represented a man who worked at the same company for 25 years. He tested positive for marijuana for the first time ever, and the company fired him without offering him treatment. We settled the case shortly after we filed it for $137,500. Please note that just because these employees received the above results doesn’t mean that’s what your case is worth. These are just examples. Your case value depends on a number of things.

First of all, if you’re searching for answers right now after losing your job, we’re very sorry that you’re in this position. We know how tough it is to lose your job, especially when you’ve got family and other financial obligations.

Second, make sure to protect yourself as you go through these tough times. For example, contact COBRA to make sure you and your family are covered for health insurance.

Third, write everything down that happened to you. Write down the date that you were terminated, who terminated you, what they precisely said was the reason for your termination, and who else was present. Write down whether you think the reason your employer gave you was accurate or not, and why. Write down the names of employees that you think may have useful information. Write down the types of documents or emails that you think may have good information about your case. Write down everything – the reason for this is that your memory will probably fade over time and you want to document things while they’re fresh in your mind. If you pursue a lawsuit, your trial likely won’t be for at least 12 to 18 months, so you want to have something that you can refer to – write everything down.

Fourth, immediately send a letter or email request to your employer requesting your personnel file and the reason for your termination. Under Minnesota law, your employer needs to provide it to you. If your employer hasn’t paid you all of your wages or given you your last paycheck, make sure to request those wages in writing also (by letter or email). Fifth, call us to talk about your case.

Six years from the date of the unlawful action (termination, test, etc.).

Contact Our Employment Attorneys Today.

First, contact our office and tell us about your situation. You’ll talk with our staff for about 5-10 minutes. They’ll get some basic information about you and your case.

There’s some information that we’ll need when you call. We will want to know who you worked for, what kind of work you did, for how long worked there, how much you earned, if/when you were terminated, the reason given by your employer for any discipline and termination, and why do you think your employer did something unlawful or wrongful. If you have this information handy, it will allow us to proceed more quickly.

We will get back to you shortly – usually within a few hours. If your potential case is a little outside of our wheelhouse, we may refer you to attorneys, agencies, or organizations that we think might be better suited to handle your situation. Our goal is to ensure you get the best and most appropriate help possible for your particular situation. If that’s not us, we’ll try to tell you immediately and point you in the right direction.

If we think that we might be able help you, we’ll set an appointment for you to talk with one of our employment lawyers. We’ll discuss your case, and give you our honest assessment of its strengths, weaknesses, and value. If we then mutually agree that Madia Newville will represent you, we will talk about the process of moving forward with your case.

When you talk with our employment lawyers, please be sure to have all relevant documents that you have in your possession. For example, if your case is employment law related, that could include:  pay-stubs, personnel files, employment handbooks/policies, letters from your employer (including your termination letter), any text messages or emails that you think are important, and any other documents that you think might be helpful.


We have a process that works in getting exceptional results for our clients. 

We are trial lawyers who prepare every case for trial from Day 1. Investigation and legal research are the first things we do, and we spend a lot of time on them. Because we haven’t filed the case yet, we have complete control – the defendant has no say and we want to use this time wisely.  We interview witnesses that can help us prove the case.  We’ll ask you for all relevant documents in your possession and review those carefully as well.  We also will spend some time conducting legal research about unique issues in the case.  We pull the jury instructions that the judge will ultimately charge the jury with after closing arguments at trial. 

Our next step is typically to send a demand letter to the defendant. In the letter, we thoroughly lay out: the facts surrounding the defendant’s misconduct; the applicable law (including statutory and case citations) that make clear that the defendant broke the law; an analysis of your damages and the defendant’s monetary exposure; a demand for a monetary amount to settle the claim; and an instruction to preserve all relevant evidence, including electronic evidence. The point of this letter is to give the defendant a chance to do the right thing and pay a fair amount before litigation, and to give the defendant an opportunity to present any defenses or evidence it wants us to consider before moving forward.  Sometimes we skip the demand letter if there are strategic reasons to move straight to filing, but we typically give defendants a chance to do the right thing.

If early negotiations fail, great – we file a Complaint and serve the defendant with it. A Complaint is a legal document that states the facts of what happened and alleges how the defendant broke the law. It formally starts the lawsuit.  Many lawyers draft complaints in a general and relatively vague way, just to get it done and filed – because that’s all that’s really required.  We take a different view. We view the Complaint as our first chance to tell your story to the judge, and we take it seriously. So we draft detailed complaints and include legal citations to statutory and judicial authority on unique points.  Sometimes we’ll include a number of exhibits, diagrams, or other demonstrative aids to help the Court understand our claims.  A secondary benefit of this approach is that defense lawyers reading the Complaint can become educated on the problems of their case and the state of the law – sometimes this leads them to reach out to us shortly after service of the Complaint to re-initiate settlement negotiations.  Of course, by that time, the price for settlement has gone up.

Some lawyers view written discovery as a necessary evil – something to get done and out of the way before depositions.  Not us.  Written discovery is a gift and an opportunity.  We spend a great deal of time crafting requests for documents and interrogatories (questions for the defendant to answer in writing) that are specific, detailed, and tailored to get what we need to prove our case.  Many lawyers – even great ones – think written discovery is a waste of time because defense lawyers typically answer them on behalf of their clients and can try to stonewall with legalese and objections.  We view this as a wonderful opportunity.  In our experience, most defense lawyers can’t help themselves when answering discovery: they over-state their defenses and make assertions that their clients will not be able to support in testimony. So we get to commit the defendant to defenses that they can’t back up, leading to contradictions, confusion, and chaos in their depositions later on.  We also use Requests for Admission – which many lawyers don’t.  The Federal Rules and Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure allow us to ask defendants to “admit” certain facts.  We send them RFAs that are very difficult for them to deny.  Of course, they do it anyway, but that sets them up later for cost and fee-shifting, which the Rules mandate for defendants that deny RFAs that are later proven true.  And usually, we can get the defendants’ own witnesses to admit facts that their defense lawyers denied in RFA.  That’s a great situation that leads to more chaos and confusion on the defense side.

One last point on written discovery – we send multiple waves of it throughout discovery.  We typically send 3 or 4 sets of written discovery requests to defendants throughout discovery.  This compounds the problems for them, because the defense lawyers continue to overstate their defenses, but now run into contradictions from not just the defendant witnesses’ deposition testimony, but also their own previous discovery responses.  This makes for a great record that we can present to the judge at dispositive motions, and use for impeachment at trial.

This is our chance to question relevant witnesses, on the record with a court reporter (we typically videotape important depositions as well). We get to confront the defense witnesses with all of the evidence we’ve developed through written discovery and document production. By this time, the defendant put its witnesses in an impossible position through its written defenses, which are often untrue and indefensible.  So the witness has to either lie to support the defense, or admit it’s not true.  That’s a dilemma that works for our clients either way, no matter which option the witness takes.  We use depositions to expose contradictions, create a record for dispositive motions, lock witnesses into their stories so that we can impeach them later at trial, and sometimes, to show defense lawyers how hopeless their case is.  We often calls from defense counsel shortly after depositions of their clients, seeking to re-start settlement negotiations.

The defendant will usually make a motion for summary judgment after discovery, asking the Court to throw out the case without having a jury trial. Because we’ve hit discovery so hard – both through written discovery and depositions – this is a tough motion for defense counsel to write in our cases.  We draft our response for the Court and now get to bring everything together: the admissions, contradictions, nonsense, and obvious fact disputes that we’ve uncovered through discovery.  We tell a compelling story that wraps everything together for the Court and makes clear that the defense motion has to be denied, and the defendant needs to face a jury for its conduct.

Sometimes, we’ll even make an affirmative motion for summary judgment, asking the Court to grant judgment in favor of our client without a trial. These motions are generally rare for plaintiffs to make, because the defendant can usually point to some fact dispute on its intent or some other factor that necessitates a trial. But we make affirmative summary judgment motions significantly more than is typical for plaintiffs, and that’s because the work we put in during discovery helps build a fantastic record to do so.

After the Court denies the defense motion for summary judgment, the defendant has only 2 options: 1) do the right thing and pay you a fair amount to our client to settle your claim (usually much, much more at this point than the defendant could have paid at the beginning of the case to settle); or 2) face a jury for its conduct and risk an enormous verdict. This is the dilemma that we have been creating and forcing the defendant into for the entire case. We’ll engage in settlement negotiations at this point from a position of extreme strength, mainly because most defendants are (rightly) terrified of facing a jury to defend their conduct.

This is, candidly, our favorite part of the case – why we went to law school: to hold the powerful accountable before juries.  We prepare heavily for trial, including: detailed witness preparation, focus groups, and mock trials.  At this point, the potential outcomes and consequences for the defendant are much more severe than if it simply did the right thing at the beginning of the case and paid a fair amount to compensate our client for its misconduct.  As we advocate to the jury for our client, we’re also mindful of protecting the record so that defendants will be unsuccessful in attacking the verdict in post-trial motions or appeal.