Before ending its legislative session in March, the Florida legislature passed a bill that would allow random drug testing for employees of state agencies. The bill now goes to governor Rick Scott, who is expected to sign it into law.
According to the National Association of State Personnel Executives, this would make Florida the first state in the nation to have a law in place allowing random drug testing of all state workers. Under the plan, any state employee could be randomly subjected to a drug test every three months. The bill also stipulates that those tested constitute no more than 10 percent of the agency’s workforce and that the random pool of employees chosen be “computer-generated by a third party.”
Present law allows testing for “safety sensitive” positions, but forbids agencies from firing first offenders; requiring them to enter treatment programs instead. The new law would allow an agency to terminate an employee for a first-offense. The bill is unfunded, so agencies would have to take the cost of the testing out of their own budgets.
Ironically, lawmakers excluded themselves from the proposed law, citing first-amendment protections.
Naturally, some aren’t happy about this and lawsuits are expected to fly when the bill likely gets signed into law. Many legal scholars in Florida have said that the law will most probably be ruled unconstitutional, citing previous court rulings that have struck down drug testing for government jobs that don’t involve public safety.
The FL workers’ compensation attorneys at Farah & Farah will be watching to see how this all unfolds with great interest. Will this law stand? And if it does, what does that mean for the future of state employee protections and rights? Time will tell.
Source: http://htpolitics.com/2012/03/09/state-workers-subject-to-drug-testing-under-bill-headed-to-scott/; http://www.humanresourcesjournal.com/2012/03/florida-state-workers-face-drug-testing-bill/