Knowledgebase-Confidentiality of Employee Drug Testing Results

Information Product

Title:Confidentiality of Employee Drug Testing Results
Summary:MTAS was asked whether the results of an employee drug test are confidential under Tennessee law.
Original Author:Jones, Josh
Product Create Date:07/10/2007
Last Reviewed on::03/22/2010
Subject:Personnel--Health and safety--Drugs; Records management
Type:Legal Opinion
Legal Opinion: Confidentiality of Employee Drug Testing Results  public.doc

Reference Documents:

Text of Document: Dear Human Resources Director,

Your question is: Are the results of an employee drug test confidential under Tennessee law?

My answer is generally, yes.

T.C.A. 50-9-109 specifically addresses drug test results. The statute explicitly states:

(a) All information, interviews, reports, statements, memoranda and drug or alcohol test results, written or otherwise, received by the covered employer through a drug or alcohol testing program are confidential communications and may not be used or received in evidence, obtained in discovery or disclosed in any public or private proceedings, except in accordance with this section or in determining compensability under this chapter.

This section goes on to say that this information remains protected until the person tested signs a voluntary consent form or a judicial ruling orders disclosure.

The confidentiality of these records is further cemented by a 1999 Tennessee Attorney General opinion (Op. Atty. Gen. No. 99-126, June 29, 1999). In this opinion the Attorney General suggests that even where drug test results are kept in an employee’s personnel file pursuant to the Drug-Free Workplace Program, they are nonetheless confidential and not subject to disclosure under the Tennessee Public Records Act. Furthermore, the opinion recommends the practice of maintaining all drug testing records separate from the employee’s personnel file.

I hope this sufficiently answers your request. If you need additional assistance with this or any other municipal matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for consulting with MTAS.


Josh Jones
Legal Consultant
Municipal Technical Advisory Service
226 Capitol Boulevard, Suite 606
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 532-6827

Please remember that these legal opinions were written based on the facts of a given city at a certain time. The laws referenced in any opinion may have changed or may not be applicable to your city or circumstances.

Always consult with your city attorney or an MTAS consultant before taking any action based on information contained in this database.