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ACLU Sues Over Gov. Scott’s State Employee Drug Testing Order

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MIAMI (CBS4) – The American Civil Liberties Union has gone to court to stop an executive order by Gov. Rick Scott which requires drug testing of state employees without regard to suspicion.

Executive Order 11-58 requires pre-employment drug testing for all prospective new hires of state agencies under the governor’s authority. It also requires random drug testing of all current employees, from executive leadership to part-time employees. ACLU officials said Wednesday such screening violates privacy rights and represents an extreme overreach of Scott’s power.

“Floridians deserve to know that those in public service, whose salaries are paid with taxpayer dollars, are part of a drug-free workplace,” said Scott last March.

The ACLU says the drug testing policy simply attempts to resurrect a policy previously found unconstitutional by a federal judge in a 2004 ACLU case against the Department of Juvenile Justice. The suit found the random drug testing of state employees to be unconstitutional, and the plaintiff was awarded a settlement of $150,000. From the judgment: “DJJ had (and apparently still has) a random drug testing policy applicable by its terms to all DJJ employees, top to bottom. DJJ now virtually concedes the policy cannot constitutionally be applied to at least some DJJ employees.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed blanket suspicion-less drug testing only if “the risk to public safety is substantial and real.”

The ACLU action comes one day after the governor signed a bill requiring that welfare recipients also be drug tested. They must pass the test before receiving benefits. Applicants will have to pay for the tests themselves and will be reimbursed if they pass.

This law is also expected to be challenged. A similar Michigan law passed in 1999 that required random drug testing of Welfare recipients lasted five weeks in 1999 before it was stopped by a judge. An appeals court ruled it unconstitutional after a four-year legal battle.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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