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Thursday
Apr262012

Employee Drug Tests Unconstitutional

Today, a federal judge ruled a Florida state drug testing program unconstitutional. What does this mean for you? Fortunately, very little.

Yesterday, you learned about two rule changes regarding protection for employees with “gender identity” issues and prohibiting children under 18 from working on farms. Sex Change Protected . . . Farm Work Rejected. Both of these new rules are employment law sea changes.

This drug testing decision would be a sea change if it applied to private Oregon employers. It does not. At least not yet.

The testing program before the court required Florida state workers to submit to drug tests. The public employee union joined with the ACLU to bring suit.

This is a Florida decision. It does not apply to Oregon employers until recognized by an Oregon court. But, an Oregon court could follow the Florida lead. That is a cause for concern.

The most important thing for you to know is that the rules for public employers (like states, counties, cities and schools) are different than for private employers. They are bound by the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions on warrantless search and seizure (the basis of the court’s decision). Private employers are not.

If you hear of this ruling in the press or from a wanna-be-lawyer employee, you can be certain it does not apply to you.

Less comforting, however, is the very real possibility that labor advocates will lobby for legislation or administrative rules prohibiting private employers from testing private employees as well.

Drug tests are an important tool for maintaining workplace safety and productivity. This is an issue you should follow.

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