MIAMI – A federal judge declared Gov. Rick Scott’s order requiring drug testing for some 85,000 state workers unconstitutional Thursday, saying the governor showed no evidence of a drug problem at the agencies to warrant suspicionless testing.
The ruling marks the second blow to Scott’s proposals regarding drug testing. The governor also suspended a state law he supported that required drug testing for welfare recipients last year after a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. A federal judge in Orlando has temporarily blocked that law.
The ACLU and a government worker’s union also filed a lawsuit last year challenging Scott’s order to drug test state employees, saying the testing violates the Fourth Amendment by subjecting state workers to an unreasonable search without adequate suspicion that they used drugs. Scott, who suspended drug testing for state employees in June, said he will appeal Thursday’s ruling.
“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,” Scott said in a statement. “That is why so many private employers drug test, and why the public and Florida’s taxpayers overwhelmingly support this policy.”
Attorneys for the governor’s office had argued there is adequate statistical evidence in years of national studies about workplace drug use and its dangers to justify the order. They also reasoned that employees aren’t being forced to take state jobs and that they can find employment elsewhere if they don’t want to be drug tested.
Scott’s attorneys also cited state laws requiring some state employees under certain circumstances to make financial disclosures or provide open access to public records, arguing all state employees have diminished privacy interests regarding drug testing.
“But the Governor’s reasoning is hardly transparent and frankly obscure,” U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro wrote. “He offers no plausible rationale explaining why the fact that a state employee’s work product and financial status are publically accessible leads to the conclusion that the employee’s expectation of privacy in his or her bodily functions and fluids is then diminished.”