REG 04.10.01 Drug and Alcohol Free Workplace

Authority:  Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration

History: First issued: February 21, 2023.  

Related Policies:
UNC Policy Manual 1300.1 – Illegal Drugs
NCSU POL 04.20.02 –  Alcohol Policy
NCSU POL 04.20.05  –  Illegal Drugs
NCSU REG 04.20.01 –  Alcohol Regulation
NCSU REG 01.25.01 – University Record Retention and Disposition Regulation

NCSU RUL 05.56.01 – General and Commercial Driver’s License Holders (CDL)

Additional References: 

Drug Free Workplace Act
Drug Free Schools and Communities Act
N.C. Gen Stat. § 90-86 et. seq. (North Carolina Controlled Substances Act)
Drug and Alcohol Free Workplace (State Human Resources Manual)

Additional Resources:
Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP)
Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Services
Post-Accident Testing Procedures
Reasonable Suspicion Testing Procedures
Reasonable Suspicion Testing Checklist
Reasonable Suspicion Drug and Alcohol Testing Notice and Consent Form

Contact for Info: Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources (919) 515-3443; Associate Vice Chancellor for Environmental Health and Public Safety (919) 515-4238.


1.0 Introduction

North Carolina State University (“NC State” or “university”) recognizes the health risks associated with illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, and prescription drug misuse and supports employees who seek treatment for these conditions.  At the same time, NC State acknowledges that substance abuse by employees can adversely affect the work environment and undermine NC State’s ability to fulfill its mission of scholarship, research, teaching, service, and extension.   

Therefore, to promote a safe learning and working environment, to comply with applicable state and federal law, and to formalize current practices, NC State supports and maintains a drug and alcohol free workplace. This regulation is designed to meet these goals and obligations by describing prohibited conduct and the consequences of engaging in such conduct. This regulation also describes when employees may be subjected to drug and alcohol testing based on direct observations of abnormal conduct or erratic behavior by the employee which may render the employee unable to perform assigned duties or which may pose a threat to safety or health.

This regulation shall be implemented and applied without regard to an individual’s race, age, color, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, religion, disability, veteran’s status, genetic status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or any other group as may be defined by state or federal anti-discrimination law, or by policies/regulations of the University of North Carolina System and NC State. 

This regulation shall be reviewed periodically as part of the process of continuous improvement and to ensure the regulation is being applied in an efficient, effective, and equitable manner. Following the first year of implementation, a review committee consisting of members from the Division of Human Resources, the Division of Environmental Health and Public Safety, the Office for Faculty Excellence, the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, and the Office of General Counsel shall conduct the review. After the initial review, the regulation shall be reviewed, at a minimum, every two years.   

2.0 Scope

This regulation applies to all NC State employees in pay status regardless of job classification or type.


  • University Police Officers are subject to drug and alcohol testing by rules established by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission.
  • Individuals who are required to hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) as a requirement of their job are subject to testing under the Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act.  

3.0 Prohibited Conduct

3.1 Illegal Drugs

3.1.1 Employees may not possess, sell, deliver, or manufacture controlled substances or designer drugs on university property or in the workplace, except as may be authorized by law (or by University policy).  

3.1.2 Employees may not report to work under the influence of illegal or designer drugs or use illegal or designer drugs while on the job or in the workplace. 

3.2 Alcohol

3.2.1 Employees may not possess, sell, deliver, or manufacture alcohol on university property or in the workplace, except as may be authorized by law (or by university policy).

3.2.2 Employees may not report to work under the influence of alcohol or use alcohol while in the workplace or while performing work except as may be authorized by established policies regarding the serving, possession, or consumption of alcohol on University Property and at university sponsored events.  An employee is permitted to consume alcohol at activities or events where the university has authorized such use pursuant to NCSU POL 04.20.02 (Alcohol Policy) and NCSU REG 04.20.01 (Alcohol Regulation).     

3.3 Prescription Drugs/Over-the-Counter Drugs

Employees are permitted to use prescription and over-the-counter drugs in the workplace or while performing work when taken according to a prescription or in standard dosage.  An employee’s illegal use of prescription drugs or misuse of legally prescribed or over-the-counter drugs that causes the employee to be impaired while performing work is prohibited.     

4.0 Definitions

4.1 Alcohol:  A chemical substance which is the intoxicating agent in beverage alcohol, ethyl alcohol, ethanol or other low molecular weight alcohols including methyl or isopropyl alcohol.

4.2 Conviction: A finding of guilt (including a guilty plea or plea of nolo contendere) or imposition of sentence, or both, by any judicial body charged with the responsibility to determine violations of federal or state criminal statutes.

4.3 Controlled Substance:  A chemical substance, or immediate precursor as listed in Schedules I through VI of the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-86 et seq.), or any controlled substance (or metabolite thereof), but not limited to, amphetamines, methamphetamines, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), cocaine, cannabinoids (i.e. marijuana), phencyclidine (PCP), opiates (i.e. heroin), barbiturates, benzodiazepines, etc. 

4.4 Designer (Synthetic) Drug: A chemical substance that is made by altering the molecular structure of a legal and/or illegal drug to create a drug that is not explicitly banned by law.    

4.5 Employee: Any person employed by NC State regardless of the appointment type.

4.6 Illegal Drug:  A controlled substance whose possession or use is prohibited by North Carolina or federal law.  The term “illegal drug” does not include the use of a controlled substance pursuant to a valid prescription (or other uses allowed by law).

4.7 Reasonable Suspicion: A belief based upon reliable, objective, and articulable facts derived from direct observation of specific physical, behavioral, or performance indicators that would lead a reasonable person to believe that an employee may be under the influence of a prohibited substance (drugs or alcohol). 

4.8 Refusal to be Tested:  The following are considered a refusal to be tested:

  • Failure to submit to testing;
  • Leaving the testing facility before testing is completed;
  • Failure to provide a specimen or providing an insufficient specimen without a valid medical reason;
  • Providing a substituted specimen, adulterated specimens, intentionally diluted specimens (positive diluted specimens are treated as positive test results), negative diluted specimens will undergo recollection); and/or 
  • Failure to cooperate during the testing process in a way that prevents completion of the test.

4.9 Under the Influence: The presence of a chemical substance (e.g., alcohol, controlled substance, designer drug) in a person that has the potential to cause impairment.

4.10 University Property: Any vehicle, building, facility, or land owned, leased, or operated by NC State.

4.11 Workplace:  Any University Property or other space where an employee performs their work responsibilities including a remote work location or an employee’s home where an employee is working pursuant to a flexible work arrangement.

5.0 Employee Responsibilities

5.1 Employees are expected to proactively address substance abuse issues (i.e. seek counseling, request assistance) before problems negatively affect their work performance or work environment.  The employee is encouraged to utilize the resources provided by the university, either those provided through the employee’s health insurance program or the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program. 

5.2 Employees are responsible for knowing about and complying with the provisions in state (North Carolina) and federal law that make it a crime to possess, sell, deliver, or manufacture controlled substances. Employees must also refrain from prohibited behavior as listed in 3.0. 

5.3 Consistent with NC REG 05.55.08 – Background Checks, employees are required to report any conviction of a criminal offense (other than a minor traffic violation) to their immediate supervisor within five (5) calendar days of the conviction.              

5.4 Each employee is responsible for ensuring that they have (from a qualified medical provider) a thorough understanding of the effects and potential side effects of any prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, or other substances that might impair the employee’s ability to safely perform their job duties.  If the use of a medication could compromise the ability of an employee to perform their job duties in a safe manner, or could impact the safety of co-workers, other members of the campus community, or the public, it is the employee’s responsibility to notify their supervisor to address the safety issue through adjustments to job duties and/or use of appropriate leave in order to avoid creating a safety risk in the workplace.  Employees who are unable to perform the essential functions of their job may seek a reasonable accommodation in employment pursuant to NC REG 05.00.02 – Reasonable Accommodations in Employment.  

5.5 Employees must comply with university requirements as outlined for reasonable suspicion and post-accident testing. 

5.6 Any employee operating a motor vehicle on the job who is involved in an accident is responsible for notifying their supervisor within one (1) hour or as soon as possible if physically unable to do so.  If the supervisor is not available, a higher level manager in the supervisory chain must be contacted.  

6.0 University Responsibilities

6.1 The university, through the Office of Finance and Administration, will inform all employees of the Drug and Alcohol Free Workplace regulation upon initial employment with NC State.  The Chancellor or designee will provide annual notification of NC State’s obligations under the Drug Free Workplace Act.

6.2 The Human Resources Division will make training available for supervisors and managers regarding a Drug and Alcohol Free workplace.

6.3 The Human Resources Division and Environmental Health & Public Safety Division will make available informational resources on substance abuse for employees.     

6.4 The university encourages employees to voluntarily seek help with alcohol and/or drug problems and recognizes that issues with alcohol and/or drug abuse and addiction are treatable.  The university understands that early intervention and support improves the potential for rehabilitation and is committed to assisting those employees seeking assistance. 

For Faculty, EHRA Non-Faculty, SHRA, and Post-Doc employees, the university provides a Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP) as a confidential service that offers professional assessment, counseling, and referral services for employees and their family for the treatment of drug or alcohol problems.  In addition, student employees may seek assistance through NC State Campus Health or by contacting an Alcohol or Other Drug (AOD) Prevention and Education Coordinator.  Employees may be eligible to take leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or other applicable leave provisions while undergoing treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.  Employees experiencing substance abuse issues may seek treatment through their health insurance program.  The university will keep an employee’s efforts to obtain medical assistance confidential to the extent permitted by law.

6.5 When applicable, the university will notify the appropriate federal contracting agency of an employee’s illegal drug conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace. The notification will be provided within ten (10) calendar days after receiving notice of the conviction.   

7.0 Violations

7.1 Engaging in prohibited conduct as listed in Section 3 of this regulation.

7.2 A Refusal to be Tested as defined in Section 4.8 of this regulation.

8.0 Disciplinary Action/Corrective Measures

8.1 Employees found to have violated this regulation may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal or discharge for cause.  Disciplinary action shall be decided on a case-by-case basis.  Factors that may be considered in determining the level of disciplinary action include, but are not limited to, an employee’s past performance record, the nature of the job held, the nature and seriousness of the violation, whether the violation affected other members of the university community, whether the employee engaged in threatening or violent behavior, and any other mitigating or aggravating factors.    

8.2 In addition to (or in lieu of) disciplinary action, the university may require other corrective measures to address violations of this regulation.  Such corrective measures may include, but are not limited to, mandatory referral to FASAP (for non-student employees) or to an Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Prevention and Education Coordinator (for student employees), requiring an employee to successfully complete a substance abuse treatment program, and/or requiring an employee to submit to follow-up testing as a condition of continued employment. A refusal to comply with any corrective measures required by the university may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal or discharge for cause.      

8.3 Employees may be placed on investigatory status (SHRA) or administrative leave (EHRA) with pay to allow the university time to investigate allegations of violations and to consider disciplinary action and/or corrective measures.  

8.4 Employees who use illegal drugs or alcohol, or who inappropriately use prescription/over-the-counter drugs, will be held to the same standards of job performance and conduct as that of other employees, even if unsatisfactory job performance or unacceptable conduct is related to the use of illegal drugs or alcohol, or inappropriate use of prescription/over-the-counter drugs.

8.5 If an employee wishes to appeal any disciplinary action based on the results of a positive alcohol or drug test, they should follow the grievance procedure associated with their employee category. Faculty members subject to the imposition of serious sanction pursuant to Section 603 of The Code based on the results of a positive alcohol or drug test are not required to file a separate grievance under the Faculty Grievance and Non-reappointment Review Policy.  

9.0 Drug and Alcohol Testing

Federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations regarding drug/alcohol testing and monitoring will be followed wherever applicable.

9.1 Reasonable Suspicion Testing 

Reasonable suspicion must be based on objective facts that are easily observable.  Signs may include physical and behavioral indicators which exceed the impact of fatigue or illness.  Reasonable suspicion testing requires that two or more witnesses (at least one of whom is in the direct chain of supervision of the employee) document the observed indicators that form the basis for testing, and submit the documentation to the appropriate university officials to determine whether such testing is appropriate.  The foundation for a decision to test is the safety of NC State students, faculty, and staff and the understanding that substance abuse by employees can adversely affect the work environment and undermine NC State’s ability to fulfill its mission of scholarship, research, teaching, service, and extension. 

9.1.1 Drug and alcohol testing of employees may be conducted if there is reasonable suspicion to believe the employee has used drugs or alcohol or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at work. 

  1. When a supervisor is notified of or believes there may be a need to conduct a drug and/or alcohol test pursuant to Section 9.1.1, the supervisor shall immediately contact University Employee Relations or the HR Lead for their college or division, which will assist the supervisor in following NC State’s Reasonable Suspicion Testing Procedures and in utilizing the Reasonable Suspicion Testing Checklist for documenting and determining evidence of impairment that establishes reasonable suspicion.  Whenever feasible, the Director of Employee Relations (or designated Employee Relations representative) or HR Lead (or designee) will provide assistance at the work site.
  2. The Reasonable Suspicion Testing Checklist will be completed by the supervisor (or other manager within the supervisory chain) and a witness. The witness will be either a member of the University’s Employee Relations team, the designated Human Resources (HR) Lead (or designee) for the college or division, or a representative of Environmental Health and Public Safety. After recording initial observations on the checklist, the supervisor (and witness) will escort the employee to a private area where the employee will be evaluated further.  The employee will be provided with an opportunity to respond to the observations.  The employee’s response will be taken into consideration in determining whether a test may be required. If the employee’s response indicates a test would be unnecessary because they have admitted they have used alcohol or drugs and/or are impaired, a test may not be required.
  3. If, based on the recorded observations and the employee’s response, the supervisor and witness determine that the employee may be in violation of the regulation, the supervisor will inform the employee of that belief, ask the employee to submit to a reasonable suspicion drug and alcohol test, and sign and complete the Reasonable Suspicion Testing Consent Form.  The Associate Vice Chancellor of Environmental Health & Public Safety (or designee) will be contacted and will make the final determination if a test should be administered.

Due to the timing requirements of testing, the evaluation of reasonable suspicion should occur in a timely manner to ensure that, when testing is conducted, that collected samples provide accurate results. Tests should be performed immediately and must be conducted within four (4) hours for reasonable suspicion of alcohol use and within thirty-two (32) hours for reasonable suspicion of controlled substance use.  

9.1.2 Exigent Circumstances

If an evaluation for testing based on reasonable suspicion is needed outside of normal university business hours but within the hours an employee completes their normal duties and responsibilities, members of University Employee Relations or the HR Lead may be unavailable to serve as a witness.  In such circumstances, the witness will then be a designee from Environmental Health and Public Safety. The Associate Vice Chancellor of Environmental Health & Public Safety (or designee) will be contacted and will make the final determination if a test should be administered. Whenever practicable, the designee should be an employee whose position is similar to the individual who would normally serve as a witness.  

9.2 Post-Accident Testing 

All employees are subject to drug and alcohol testing following any on-the-job accident involving the employee where:

  • The accident resulted in loss of life; 
  • The accident resulted in a person being transported for medical treatment; 
  • The accident resulted in significant property damage (> $5,000); or
  • As a result of the accident, an employee driving a motor vehicle was cited for a moving traffic violation and any vehicle involved in the accident was removed from the scene by other means than its owner. 
  1. If the employee has been injured and is transported to a medical facility for treatment, a test will be conducted at that facility.
  2. Post-accident alcohol testing should be done within four (4) hours of the accident.  If a test cannot be completed within four (4) hours of the accident, it will not be conducted.
  3. Post-accident drug testing must be done within thirty-two (32) hours of the accident.  If a test cannot be completed within thirty-two (32) hours, it will not be conducted.
  4. Employees must submit to post-accident testing and must comply with the timelines for post-accident testing.  If unable to meet specified timelines due to circumstances beyond the employee’s control, such circumstances must be documented and submitted to University Employee Relations and the Background Check Unit.  If an employee is capable of reporting the accident but does not do so (or fails to do so in a timely manner), the employee is subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal/discharge for cause.

10.0 Test Results 

10.1 Notification 

The Director of Employee Relations (or designee) shall notify the employee within twenty-four (24) hours on business days or within seventy-two (72) hours on non-business days after receiving the drug and/or alcohol test results. An employee has the right to request and receive a copy of their test results.

10.2 Negative Test Result

If the result of a drug or alcohol test is negative, the employee may return to work immediately and any documentation relating to the test shall be maintained pursuant to the university’s records retention schedule.

10.3 Positive Alcohol Test Results 

If an employee’s alcohol test results in a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.04 or higher, the employee will be immediately removed from performing duties that adversely affect the work environment. A positive alcohol test may result in disciplinary action/corrective measures as set forth in section 8 of this regulation and/or requirements for the return of duty as set forth in section 11 of this regulation.

10.4 Positive Drug Test Results 

If an employee’s drug test results in a positive drug test, the employee will be immediately removed from performing duties that adversely affect the work environment.  A positive drug test may result in disciplinary action/corrective measures as set forth in section 8 of this regulation and/or requirements for the return of duty as set forth in section 11 of this regulation.

In the event of a positive drug test, a Medical Review Officer (MRO), a licensed medical doctor who has special training in the area of substance abuse, will review the results to ensure compliance with chain-of-custody procedures and will contact the employee to eliminate medical or other reasons for the positive drug test.  When the MRO has confirmed the positive drug test, the MRO will report the result to the Director of Employee Relations (or designee).  An employee who has a positive drug test may request through the MRO that the same or split specimen be re-tested at the laboratory or tested at another certified laboratory with the cost of such testing at the employee’s expense. A request for re-testing of a sample must be made within 72 hours upon the employee receiving written notice of a positive test result.  

10.5 Diluted Test Results

Verified positive diluted specimens are treated as a positive test result. The university will require employees with negative diluted specimens to undergo immediate unobserved recollection.

11.0 Return to Duty

If an employee who has had a positive alcohol test or positive drug test is allowed to remain employed (not dismissed or discharged for cause), the employee must be cleared to return to duty.  To be cleared for return to duty, the employee must, if directed by the university:

  • Successfully complete  a substance abuse evaluation and/or treatment program;
  • Receive a negative test result from a return to duty test which is a one-time (announced) drug or alcohol test for an employee who has completed the required substance abuse evaluation and/or treatment program;
  • As a condition of continued employment, submit to one (1) additional follow-up drug or alcohol test during the following twelve (12) months; and/or  
  • Complete any other requirements or corrective measures in order to return to the workplace.

12.0 Records Maintenance and Confidentiality

All information, interviews, reports, statements, memoranda, and test results, written or otherwise, received by NC State through its drug and alcohol testing program are confidential and may not be disclosed except as required by law.  Any information obtained by NC State pursuant to this regulation shall be the property of NC State.  NC State shall not release to any person other than the employee or other authorized personnel (as designated by NC State on a need-to-know basis), information related to drug and alcohol test results unless the employee expressly, in writing, grants permission for NC State to release such information; or it is necessary to produce such information as required or permitted by applicable law.  

12.1 Upon written request to University Employee Relations, an employee may obtain copies of their records.

12.2  NC State must provide test results of employees to:

  • any federal agency as required for employees governed by federal regulations; and
  • any other federal, state, or local officials with regulatory authority over NC State or any of its employees, including but not limited to, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as part of an accident investigation.

12.3 NC State may disclose testing records to a decision-maker in a lawsuit, grievance, or other proceeding initiated by or on behalf of the employee that arises from the test results or a violation of this regulation.

12.4 The Human Resources Division shall securely maintain all records and information in accordance with the university’s record retention schedule and any other applicable state and federal requirements. 

12.5 Positive drug or alcohol test results are maintained for five (5) years.  Negative drug or alcohol tests are retained for one (1) year.