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Blocking All Suspicionless Drug Tests is Too Broad, Says 11th Cir

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By Betty Wang, JD on June 11, 2013 3:59 PM

When the district court issued a sweeping injunction that promptly stopped an order to require 85,000 people to report to suspicionless drug testing, it was too broad, the Eleventh Circuit said last month.

In 2011, the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, issued an executive order (EO) that required nearly 85,000 state employees submit to suspicionless drug testing. In turn, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 79 ("Union") sued Rick Scott in his official capacity in court to invalidate this EO -- both facially, and as an as-applied challenge (contending that it was unconstitutional). The district court then granted summary judgment in favor of the Union.

The Eleventh Circuit frowned in response, claiming this relief was far too broad.

They did mention that the Supreme Court of the United States has held that suspicion-less drug tests by the government are an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment.

However, SCOTUS did not strike through suspicionless testing entirely, but rather limited it to a balancing test that looked at many exceptions, particularly when state employees had to carry weapons, operate heavy machinery, and were involved in any other safety-sensitive positions. Or, if a threat to public safety was involved.

In short, the Union was requesting that too much of the EO be struck down, while the State tried to maintain that too much of the EO should be applied. In the end, it's about finding a good balance.

The Eleventh Circuit did not reverse the decision in granting Rick Scott and Florida summary judgment, however, on the grounds that the state has obviously not justified the broad scope of the EO. They have instead remanded the case, tacking on the requirement that the state must demonstrate a need for suspicionless drug testing on a more particular basis, rather than just a random blanket one.

Bottom line: random drug testing is fine, but there needs to be a more valid reason for it than, "just cause."

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