NC Court Rules Random Drug & Alcohol Testing is “Invasion of Privacy”

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The North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled that a school board who required its districts’ drivers and teachers to submit to random drug and alcohol screening violated its employees privacy.  I couldn’t disagree more with this judgement.  I believe the safety of the students attending school in that district should be of the utmost priority and the school board should have the ability to determine how to best handle that responsibility.  Additionally, I think this ruling sets a very bad precedent that can be used against  any employer who requires drug and alcohol testing as a condition of employment.

One reason given for the judge’s decision:  “There is also a complete want of evidence that any student or employee has ever been harmed because of the presence of ‘a detectable amount of illegal drug or alcohol’ in an employee’s body.”

Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t.  And with this court’s ruling, it now has an even better chance.  A very poor decision.

Court Rejects Random Employee Drug Testing

By Jeff Gorman, Courthouse News Service – June 17, 2009

(CN) – A North Carolina school system violated its employees’ rights by forcing them to submit to random drug and alcohol testing, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled. The court cited privacy concerns and the lack of evidence that anyone has been harmed by a “detectable amount” of drugs or alcohol in an employee’s system.

Susan Jones and the North Carolina Association of Educators sued the Graham County Board of Education to challenge the policy, which required drivers to submit to random testing and required all employees to pass “an alcohol or drug test” as a condition of employment.

The testing policy became even stricter in December 2006, when all employees became subject to random testing. The employees sued five months later.     

The trial court ruled for the school board, but Judge Stephens reversed the decision on the grounds that it violated the state Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches.

“We are unable to conclude from this record,” Stephens wrote, “that any of the board’s employees have a reduced expectation of privacy by virtue of their employment in a public school system.     

“There is also a complete want of evidence that any student or employee has ever been harmed because of the presence of ‘a detectable amount of illegal drug or alcohol’ in an employee’s body.” 

Read the case summary here.

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