U.S. companies with limited or no drug testing turn away black applicants under the implied assumption that we use drugs, according to a new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER.)
Economics professor Abigail Wozniak of University of Notre Dame, who conducted the study, looked at how hiring practices differ between states with laws that encourage drug testing and states with laws with limit or don’t require the testing. She found that applying at pro-testing companies improves the chances of blacks getting hired – because we can ultimately “prove” we’re drug-free – while applying at limited drug testing companies appears to hurt blacks because, well, we’re automatically linked to drugs anyway.
“A common assumption is that the rise of drug testing must have had negative consequences for black employment,” Wozniak writes. “However, contrary to what one might expect, the rise of employer drug testing may have benefited African-Americans.”
Wozniak cautions against interpreting this study as proof that employers are explicitly discriminating against black applicants, though.
“The results don’t look like what you would call typical old-school racism,” Wozniak tells HuffPost in a phone interview. “The research in the paper suggest that the bias is coming in more subtle ways.”