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Drug Screening in the Public Sector: Municipalities and Government Workers

NCJ Number
Journal of Law and Health Volume: 2 Issue: 1 Dated: (1987-1988) Pages: 39-66
J B Lewis
Date Published
28 pages
This article discusses the constitutional implications for municipalities undertaking the screening of government workers for drug use.
While government employees may not have as great an expectation of privacy as employees in the private sector, they are protected by the fourteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and their employers are bound to protect them from unreasonable searches and seizures and to ensure that their due process, equal protection, and privacy rights are given full consideration. The constitutional considerations are discussed in detail, with relevant citations to case law. Additionally, when ruling on the constitutionality of a drug testing program for certain types of government employees, the courts will examine job functions, the expectations of privacy for workers in the group, and the means by which the drug test is carried out. Federal, State, and common law implications for litigation challenging drug testing are also discussed, as are local ordinances limiting drug testing. Specific concerns for public employers to consider before establishing drug testing programs are detailed.