City of Hollywood Urine Drug Testing Policy Declared Unconstitutional by Federal Court

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
April 13, 2000 12:00 am

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MIAMI — A court today struck down the as unconstitutional a City of Hollywood policy that required that all new city employees to undergo urine screening for drugs, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp comes more than a year after the ACLU initially challenged the invasive policy on behalf of Thomas Baron, an accountant whose job offer from the city was rescinded after he refused to take a urine test.

“Judge Ryskamp’s decision is an affirmation of the privacy rights and dignity of working people,” said ACLU Cooperating Attorney Ephraim Hess, who represented Baron along with his law partner Colleen O’Loughlin and ACLU of Florida Legal Director Andy Kayton.

“Today’s decision from the federal court confirms that highly personal and humiliating urine tests of employees, without suspicion that those employees are using drugs, are unconstitutional.”

Baron was hired by the City of Hollywood after working as a temporary accountant through an agency for three months. His duties included preparing bank reconciliations of all accounts and preparing a database of all lease agreements with the city, as well as other sources of city revenue. Baron received praise for the quality of his work performance from the City’s accounting managers, and after a three-month period, city officials hired Baron as part of the city’s accounting pool.

But when he refused to submit to the City’s drug test as a matter of principle, the city revoked its decision to hire him.

Baron is seeking a modest amount of lost compensation as a result of not being hired. That issue is still pending, the ACLU said.

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