Scott tells state agency heads to hold off on randomly drug testing employees

Gov. Rick Scott (Pic via Facebook)

In a letter sent to state agency heads today, Gov. Rick Scott advises against randomly drug testing state employees, until a judge issues a ruling regarding the issue. The letter comes just one day after Scott signed a bill allowing state agencies to adopt policies that allow for random drug testing of their employees.

The bill signed by Scott yesterday expands random drug testing to include state workers that are not in “safety-sensitive” positions and allows agency heads to implement a program allowing for the random drug testing of ten percent of their workforce, every three months.

A judge is set to issue a ruling on a lawsuit filed last year after Scott issued an executive order mandating all state agencies to randomly drug test their employees. The order was halted once the lawsuit was filed. The judge hearing the case has already expressed concerns over the constitutionality of the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida told state lawmakers this past legislative session to hold off on passing a law that presented the same problems as the executive order. The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state’s first attempt to drug test state employees without suspicion.

As I reported last month:

Ron Bilbao, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, warned a Senate panel today that the bill was “unconstitutional” and reiterated that, if passed, it would be an “open invitation to litigation.” The ACLU has warned lawmakers that the bill would allow state agencies to take part in “random suspicion-less drug testing” of its employees, a violation of the fourth amendment.

Bilbao also pointed out that the bill was “duplicative litigation.” Last year, Scott issued an executive order that mandated random drug testing of state employees. That attempt was blocked and is currently awaiting a ruling from a judge in Miami. Bilbao told the Senate panel that the judge has “already expressed serious doubts” about the constitutionality of the state’s last efforts.

Even though both chambers passed the bill and the Scott has signed it into law, the state is going to wait for a judge’s ruling before instituting the policies.

In the letter sent today, Scott told agency heads that “because the legal case remains unresolved, the practical and logistical issues involved with implementing drug testing across all agencies remain the same.”

“Once the lawsuit is resolved in the State’s favor,” Scott continued, “the Governor will direct agencies to implement Executive Order 11-58 and the new provisions of the Drug-Free Workplace Act.”

Part of the Drug-Free Workplace Act now contains language that says agency heads can adopt the policies at their own discretion. Last year’s order, however, mandated that all agencies randomly drug test employees.

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