Black people suffer disproportionately due to America’s war on drugs, especially where incarceration is concerned. As it turns out, though, blacks may actually benefit from employee drug testing.
Quartz reports that companies which drug test their employees actually hire more blacks. Abigail Wozniak, a Notre Dame labor economist, studied the impact of drug testing on different groups and came away with a counter-intuitive conclusion: “In states where testing is prevalent thanks to supportive laws, black employment increased between 7% and 30%, and wages for black workers increased by between 1.4% and 13%.”
Although blacks are stopped and arrested more often for drug related crimes, when blacks are actually tested for drug use, they come up clean more often than not. This may be in line with studies which show that although blacks are harassed more often for drug related crimes, whites and blacks use illegal drugs at around the same rate.
Wozniak explains that white hiring managers tend to rely on stereotypes and sometimes assume that blacks use drugs, but drug tests disabuse them of that notion, resulting in more black hires. So in that sense, blacks actually benefit from drug testing.
Without the testing, employers went by their gut biases. But when testing became common and showed that black applicants were not actually using drugs, hiring rates for black applicants went up. Wozniak concludes that this is evidence of discrimination against black workers before testing, driven by some combination of racialized belief and ignorance. One other interesting finding from the study is that absent drug testing, employers tend to hire white women instead of black men.