Reporting Tim Kephart
Legislative Session Coverage
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami federal judge Ursula Ungaro has ruled that Governor Rick Scott’s order requiring drug testing for state workers is unconstitutional.
Judge Ungaro said the blanket testing of 85,000 workers violated the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable search and seizures contained in the Fourth Amendment. The ruling could eventually impact another Scott law to permit random worker drug testing.
Scott’s order was originally challenged by a union representing government workers, who were also backed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The union said drug testing should only be done if there is a suspected problem and in safety-related and high-risk jobs.
Scott’s attorneys said the workers who objected are free to quit and future job applicants could to find employment elsewhere. Scott suspended his order last June because of the lawsuit.
Scott issued the following statement after the decision was handed down.
“As I have repeatedly explained, I believe that drug testing state employees is a common sense means of ensuring a safe, efficient and productive workforce. That is why so many private employers drug test, and why the public and Florida’s taxpayers overwhelmingly support this policy. I respectfully disagree with the court’s ruling and will pursue the case on appeal.”
It’s the latest setback for Scott and the legislature in their push to drug test state workers and welfare recipients. The New York Times investigated the drug testing of welfare recipients and found it saved no money and didn’t change the system.
According to the Times, during the four months testing took place, just 2.6 percent of applicants failed the test or 108 of 4,086 tested. But, because those who passed the test are reimbursed for the test costs, Florida had to pay $118,140.
In the end, combined with the costs Florida had to pay back and the number of people who failed; the testing cost the state an extra $45,780, according to the Times.