Federal appeals court rules Florida cannot drug test all state employees

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Wednesday that Florida Governor Rick Scott [official website] cannot require all state employees to take random drug tests. Executive Order 11-58 [text, PDF], issued [JURIST report] in March 2011, would subject all state employees to drug testing, regardless of whether they were suspected of drug use. The decision by the three-judge panel concluded the state must identify which government workers it believes should undergo periodic testing:

In limited circumstances, where privacy interests implicated by the search are minimal, and where an important government interest furthered by intrusion would be placed in jeopardy by a requirement of individualized suspicion, a search may be reasonable despite the absence of such suspicion...[T]herefore, the test we apply is a job-category-by-category balancing of the individual's privacy expectations against the Government's interests.
Scott said that he would continue to argue that all state workers should be tested for drug use.

Scott's executive order represented a significant expansion of the state's drug testing policy, which only permitted drug testing in more limited circumstances, including safety sensitive positions. In 2012 a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida [official website] rejected [JURIST report] the executive order, concluding that it violated the Fourth Amendment [text]. The Florida government also faced a legal challenge to a different drug-testing law. In October 2011 a judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida [official website] temporarily blocked [JURIST report] a new Florida law that had required welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving benefits.

 

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