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Drug testing state workers ruled unconstitutional

Judge: Scott’s Drug Testing Of State Workers Unconsitutional

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.

This was a no-brainer (although that didn’t necessarily mean that I wasn’t worried about the possibility of a bad decision).

Unfortunately, since the Constitution only limits the powers of government, private employers are not bound by this, so they can still require drug testing. But at least this keeps the universality of workplace drug-testing partially at bay.

Governor Scott plans to appeal the decision:

“As I have repeatedly explained, I believe that drug testing employees is a common sense means of ensuring a docile and subservient citizenry, where troublemakers who question government or notice its corruption can be easily disemployed.”

[No, that’s not what Scott said, but it makes as much sense.]

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18 comments to Drug testing state workers ruled unconstitutional

  • since the Constitution only limits the powers of government, private employers are not bound by this, so they can still require drug testing

    This is a point I really have trouble with… that employers are allowed to violate the Constitution. A warrantless search is a warrantless search regardless of the entity committing it. In my mind (such as it is…) the right to privacy is fundamental, immutable and inviolable. Besides, under the argument that employers are above the Constitution they would also be allowed to search my home, not hire me because I’m black, or brown, or female, or handicapped…

    So, where am I in error? He’p me unnerstand…

    • Servetus

      Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

      A private citizen doesn’t have the same legal constraints the government has, or those acting under color of state or federal law have, like paid informants.

      That means a private citizen can search your home or business, and about the only chargeable crimes he or she may be committing are trespassing, burglary or industrial espionage, but not a search warrant violation. If the information ends up in the hands of the prosecutor, in can still be used as evidence.

      Sucks, doesn’t it?

      • mmm… yeah… there’s just a part of me that says no, that’s hardly what the framers had in mind.

        When reading the 4th Amendment… The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated… I personally have no problem understanding “shall not be violated.” It doesn’t say “shall not be violated by government“.

        I guess what I’m lacking is knowing where the distinction between private and government is made in the Constitution. I mean my sense of dignity and understanding of my individual sovereignty recoils at the notion there are entities w/ the power to ignore the principles of the Bill of Rights, what I consider the heart of the Constitution.

    • It’s not that employers are allowed to violate the Constitution. The Constitution doesn’t cover them. The only purpose of the Constitution is to lay out the limited powers of government. The Constitution doesn’t outlaw murder or theft. It allows the government to do so. The people (through their elected government) could prevent (outlaw) the invasion of privacy by employers. The Constitution allows us to pass laws regulating commerce, including requiring employers to pay a minimum wage, or preventing them from drug testing us.

      Yes, the Constitution allows employers to not hire someone because they’re black. Laws we’ve passed, however, prevent that.

      • I understand the workings of the articles of the Constitution defining and limiting the powers of government.

        But the Bill of Rights are ours – laying out the rights of the people. Those first 10 Amendments are written as they are, in plain English, so that we, the people may all understand and embrace that which is ours. Guaranteed in the very establishing document of our nation. Well… as long we understand and wield them proactively in order to maintain them of course.

      • Matthew Meyer

        “…the Constitution allows employers to not hire someone because they’re black.”

        Pete, your own exposition argues against this.

        As you’ve said, the Constitution neither allows nor prohibits this behavior; it is silent on the matter, which is beyond its scope. It would be more accurate to say that the Constitution does not prevent racial discrimination in hiring, but allows laws to be passed that do so. (Or not, depending on POV.)

    • paul

      I see the distinction between private employers and government agencies acting with the force of law as quite clear. If an employer asks you to do something you don’t want to do, you may quit.

      Government, on the other hand, does not ask, it ORDERS. You have no choice, you may not just quit, and government orders and laws are potentially backed by violence.

      Quitting a job because the employer asks you to take a drug test is not a happy thing and it may awful consequences, but it is a world apart from government force. Private is voluntary, government is involuntary.

      • Francis

        Yeah, that sums up my views on the subject. I think drug testing your employees is an absolutely asinine policy. But that doesn’t mean I want to use the coercive power of the state to forbid it. Freedom of association implies the freedom not to associate (and the freedom to set the terms on which you’re willing to associate). As Walter Williams says, “the true test of one’s commitment to freedom of association doesn’t come when he allows people to associate in ways he approves. The true test of that commitment comes when he allows people to be free to voluntarily associate in ways he deems despicable.”

        My hunch is that without the war on (some) drugs in the equation, you would see very little private employer drug testing. Because it’s a stupid policy! It’s an unnecessary expense. Employees find the experience insulting and invasive which is not great for morale. (Handing someone a cup and asking them to pee in it is not a great way of signaling to that person that you consider them a valued and trusted team member.) In addition, some non-zero number of qualified, competent employees will decide not to work for you because they find your policies offensive. And when you fire a hard-working and competent employee because you find some offending metabolites while poking around through his urine, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. To the extent that your policy is successful at keeping your employees away from “drugs,” they’ll probably just ramp up their booze intake to compensate. (Hint: hangovers are NOT good for productivity.) Basically, drug testing your employees is a great way to artificially drive up your labor costs and/or ensure that you’ll have a lower quality workforce than would have been the case absent your pee obsession. Firms that make those kinds of business decisions tend to lose out to firms that don’t.

        • divadab

          That’s why an intelligently-run company doesn’t hire tobacco smokers, the obese, or people who walk slowly. And doesn’t drug test, and therefore exclude the creative.

          Incidentally, tobacco smokers and the obese are not protected classes in employment legislation – you can exclude them by written policy. But most companies are too busy excluding pot smokers, thus guaranteeing a workforce with fewer creative people.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    Where the heck is “the LAW is the LAW, blah, blah, blah” crowd when authorities decide to break the law and violate their Oath? Up in the peanut gallery cheering that lawbreaking like the hypocritical partisan hacks that they are is where.

  • paul

    How about drug testing politicians who vote for drug testing laws? If you want to vote “yes,” submit samples to the sergeant-at-arms.

    Would that be constitutional?

  • Got Freedom?

    They even test for a 7$ an hour job at the Sack ‘N’ Save. Wouldn’t want to get high before work and stock the tuna helper in the canned goods aisle. As long as mommygov keeps me safe I’ll sign over all rights. (not really)

  • thanks Pete, all… I’m not trying to be obtuse it’s just the spirit which accompanies my understanding of such things that balls up my acceptance of explanations sometimes.

    After having had employment ended because microscopic particles apparently are more important than attitude, aptitude and quality of work, I have a sore spot. My intolerance for pricks and bullies and the havoc the wreak just grows and grows the longer I’m in these trenches… lord I need a weekend w/ open space, open skies and my li’l friends teonanacatl.

  • Rita

    In a sane society, watching other people urinate would be considered a form of sexual perversion, and using the threat of violence, imprisonment or financial sanctions to force others to take part in your perversion would be called “rape.” Regardless of whom you work for.

    • divadab

      Not to mention the perverse desire to look up peoples’ bums!

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      I’ve never been aware of any pre-employment urine screen that was observed. Unless they’ve changed it in the last few years that includes DOT testing for CDL license holders and applicants. Back when I had that in my field of vision no sane CDL driver who chose to enjoy cannabis would go to work without a QuickFix kit just in case. QuickFix was foolproof unless the stream was observed. Shh, don’t mention that to a prohibitionist as it will give them a conniption fit. Not that I’d mind watching them to suffer but they have a tendency to lash out, demand more laws and people get hurt.

      • Rita

        When the state drug tests you, you get watched. Probation officers, jailers, so-called “counselors” at state-funded travesty of treatment facilities and “specimen collectors” at for-profit, privately-owned companies that exist only to serve the state all get their jollies, and their paychecks, watching other people pee. And they say we’re the ones who are sick.

        • Duncan20903

          .
          .

          I am very aware of forensic urinalysis. I didn’t realize that the conversation had switched from employee urine screening to forensic screening of those in custody.

          One of the most heinous practices of testing people “in the system” is taking a sample immediately upon arrest, then using the result to add more draconian terms to the pre-release agreement and/or significantly increasing the amount of money needed for bail. Innocent until proven guilty my eye.

          (My spell check software didn’t like “pre-release” and suggested “pee-release” instead. Now if that isn’t weird I don’t know what is.)