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On Mondays in July Iowa Public Radio’s talk show team examines some of the most pressing work and employment issues Iowans face. Tune in at 10 am and 12 noon and join the conversation.

Private Employers In Iowa May Soon Require Drug Tests On Hair

Flickr / Vance Shtraikh

Legislation that allows private companies in Iowa to test employees’ hair for drug use has passed out of the House Labor Committee along party lines with Republican support. 

"This is about testing for chronic long-term use," says Representative Jarad Klein of Washington County. "Is there a chronic long-term history of abuse of an illegal substance that would give them pause?"

Democrats raise concerns regarding the fairness and the efficacy of testing.

"If you have African American heritage, or you have very tight curls, or you’re blond, or you’re bald, or dye you hair, or if you’re on chemotherapy, the test results for hair, or the access in the case of someone who is bald, is going to be different," says Representative Todd Taylor of Cedar Rapids.

A group of former African-American police officers in Boston, Massachusetts are currently suing for wrongful termination, after they were fired based on the results of hair follicle tests. However Psychemedics, the corporation that tested the cops, denies any racial bias in hair analysis.