Bill Would Cut South Carolina Unemployment Benefits For Failed Drug Tests

A bill expected to come up for a vote next week on the full South Carolina House of Representatives floor would cut off unemployment benefits for people who fail potential employers' drug tests.

The bill does not require drug testing and the state will not be testing people who get benefits. But if someone who's getting unemployment benefits applies for a job and that employer gives a drug test and the person fails it, then the state would cut off benefits.

State Representative Eddie Tallon, R-Spartanburg, is the main sponsor of the bill. He says, “If it's a prerequisite to go to work for a company to pass a drug test and you don't pass it, then you're not fit and able to go to work, so therefore you shouldn't be, you should be denied any benefits for being unemployed, because you were offered a job but weren't fit to take it.”

T.J. Bates of Manning was at the Midlands SC Works Center Thursday to apply for unemployment benefits after being laid off recently. He says the bill makes sense to him. “That only right, you know. You've got to take a drug screen to get a job, so it's only right just like you're working, but you're getting a check because you're out of work, so I feel like that's only right, cause on the job you've got to take a drug test.”

Another person at the unemployment office, who didn't want to give her name, said she agrees with the bill in general but does have some concerns, like what if a prescription medication causes someone to have a false-positive drug test?

The same bill almost passed last year. It passed in the full House and was on the floor of the full South Carolina Senate on the last day of the session, but Senators never took a vote.

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