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Drug Testing of Government Employees and the Fourth Amendment: The Need for a Reasonable Suspicion Standard

NCJ Number
Notre Dame Law Review Volume: 62 Issue: 5 Dated: (1987) Pages: 1063-1082
J F Lawlor
Date Published
20 pages
This note explores the fourth amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures in the context of employee drug testing and considers the individual and governmental interests at stake in such testing.
Following an analysis of the motivations underlying government-sponsored employee drug testing, the note determines whether drug testing must comply with the fourth amendment. Several standards courts have used when determining whether drug testing violates government employees' fourth amendment rights are then examined. The note compares drug testing of government employees to other searches that require reasonable suspicion. The author concludes that drug testing is inherently intrusive because a surrendered urine sample may reveal personal information unrelated to drug use. The tests also commonly involve the private activity of urination and may impose a damaging social stigma on an employee. In the random testing situation, the tests impart a presumption of guilt upon the person tested, and the specific test procedures themselves may be especially intrusive or embarassing. Employee drug testing is therefore constitutional only if a reasonable suspicion of drug use exists before such testing occurs. 136 footnotes.


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