Bottoms removes physical exams, drug testing mandates for some city job applicants

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

Some prospective city of Atlanta employees will no longer have to undergo physical examinations and drug screenings as part of the mayor’s push to ensure a more equitable hiring process.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an executive order suspending the physical exams and drug testing for employees entering “non-safety sensitive positions,” her office announced this week. Those are roles not related to safety and security, Bottoms said in a statement, meaning the order wouldn’t apply to police officers or people who drive sanitation trucks, for example.

The city’s current pre-employment testing requirements, she said, are “outdated and costly barriers to onboarding new talent in the city of Atlanta. As we continue to reform our employment process, creating a positive employee experience is key to attracting and maintaining a top-tier workforce, while ensuring opportunities are accessible to all.”

The mayor’s office said the new order aims to address systemic inequities against communities of color, which are disproportionately impacted by underlying health conditions, studies have shown.

The order also allow the city’s top human resources official to set the requirements for physical exams and drug screens for employees in safety-sensitive roles.

In 2019, Bottoms removed the question about previous salaries from the city’s employment applications, a move aimed at preventing wage discrimination. And in 2014, the city banned a requirement for people with criminal convictions to disclose that information on job applications with the city.