Florida Governor Fights for Random Drug Testing

Governor Rick Scott of Florida has yet to let his foot off the proverbial brake when it comes to mandatory drug testing for state employees. He has been calling for drug testing for state employees since taking office in 2011. In fact, Scott made an executive order in 2011 that immediately required the state’s over 85,000 employees to consent to random drug testing and screening. Of course, the reasoning for this is to ensure that no one on the state’s payroll is actively using illegal drugs.

The executive order was immediately met with opposition and never really went into effect anywhere. Many organizations opposed Scott’s executive order including:

  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
  • The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Indeed, the case was sent to the Eleventh Circuit where Judge Ursula Ungaro struck down Scott’s order calling it unconstitutional and “too broad.” A panel from the Eleventh Circuit reviewed Ungaro’s ruling and upheld the ban on random drug testing for state employees. Of course, drug testing is not completely absent for state employees. When they are hired, they essentially consent to having drug tests, but they must be notified beforehand about the impending test.

But, according to the judges on the Eleventh Circuit, the law violates the “prohibition on unreasonable searches” found in the Fourth Amendment. Random drug tests are fairly commonplace throughout the state, but they are generally performed by private companies and employers who are not beholden to the Fourth Amendment. So, it’s possible to need an Escambia County criminal defense lawyer if you’ve failed a random drug test working for a private company. If a random drug test was administered to an employee of the county, then the tables might be turned.

Appealing to the Supreme Court

None of the blowback to the executive order has been a deterrent to Governor Scott who has continued pressing for wide-scale, mandatory drug testing for state employees. In fact, Scott has been so insistent that he is willing to take the case to the United States Supreme Court. This is a decision that shocked many of the judges on the Eleventh Circuit (including Ungaro), and it’s one that many insiders feel has no chance of turning out to be a fruitful endeavor.

In fact, one of the things that many people found perplexing considering that other courts relented and allowed random drug testing for individuals in jobs where public safety was a concern. Some of these jobs include:

  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • Train conductors
  • Pilots

Ungaro and her colleagues on the Eleventh Circuit are of the opinion that the Supreme Court of the United States will have no time or desire to hear an appeal from Governor Scott, but that doesn’t mean he will stop trying. Obviously, Scott’s concern is in the right place. Many studies have shown that a workplace environment in which drugs are a non-issue tends to work more productively. Still, he has a long road ahead of him if he wants to make random drug testing for the state’s 85,000 employees a reality.

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