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AFGE v. DOLE

September 30, 1987

American Federation Of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Elizabeth H. Dole, Secretary, Department of Transportation, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GESELL

 GERHARD A. GESELL, Judge

 This is a suit to enjoin the Department of Transportation ("DOT") from continuing to carry out its random drug testing plan *fn1" developed under authority of Executive Order 12,564 captioned "Drug-Free Federal Workplace." Exec. Order No. 12,564, 3 C.F.R. 224 (1987). Plaintiff ("AFGE") is a labor union representing certain employees subject to the DOT plan which was announced June 29, 1987, and went into effect September 8, 1987.

 DOT has moved for summary judgment and in opposing, AFGE has moved for a preliminary injunction, which in turn is opposed by DOT. Extensive papers have been filed and all issues were fully argued. *fn2"

 The DOT plan under attack here supplements other DOT drug programs for testing certain employees at time of employment and at intervals scheduled well in advance by providing for random urinalysis testing of certain employees in sensitive positions. *fn3" Only employees having critical jobs and falling in Category I are subject to this random testing. These employees are in jobs concerned with public health, safety, national security, and law enforcement; jobs which involve duties calling for the highest degree of trust and confidence. Each critical position subject to random testing is supported by a written justification statement describing why the job is critical and what would happen if an incumbent used illegal drugs. These justifications are subject to review and are monitored by an Assistant Secretary. Jobs from GS-4 to GS-14 and equivalents are covered, thus including both union and non-union supervisory employees.

 Ninety-four percent of the employees covered hold aviation-related positions such as air traffic controllers, electronic technicians, aviation safety inspectors and aircraft mechanics. In addition, fire fighters, nurses, railroad safety inspectors, armed law enforcement officers and "top secret" security clearance personnel are among those subject to random testing. Testing is under considerate procedures reflecting regard for personal privacy. *fn4" No criminal use will be made of the results and no discipline other than an offer of rehabilitation service will occur if a first-time random urinalysis test is positive. *fn5" All disciplinary actions that may occur upon further testing are subject to the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. 5 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq. (1982 & Supp. III 1985).

 To support its sweeping facial challenge to DOT's random drug testing plan, AFGE relies primarily on the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, *fn6" asserting that under the facts and circumstances shown by the affidavits and materials filed, random testing constitutes an unreasonable search. *fn7" Elaborating, the Union points, among other things, to the admitted lack of probable cause, the lack of indisputable evidence that drug use always impairs employee performance, the lack of results procured in other non-random testing and the excessive intrusion upon privacy which arbitrarily results.

 The Court clearly has jurisdiction to consider this constitutional challenge. There is no question that mandatory random urine testing is a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment under the controlling law of this Circuit, as the guiding precedent, Nat'l Fed'n of Fed'l Employees v. Weinberger, 260 U.S. App. D.C. 286, 818 F.2d 935, 942 (D.C. Cir. 1987), makes clear. However, the Amendment only prohibits "unreasonable" searches, and accordingly the focus of the drug testing case, like other Fourth Amendment testing cases, is factual, requiring the Court to balance factors bearing on reasonableness. *fn8"

 National Federation of Federal Employees v. Weinberger, 260 U.S. App. D.C. 286, 818 F.2d 935 (D.C. Cir. 1987), deals with a urinalysis drug testing program involving civilian employees of the Department of Defense. The Court emphasized that the balancing function concerns the "employees' reasonable expectations of privacy" considered against the "'government's interest in the efficient and proper operations of the work place.'" Id. at 942 (citations omitted).

 On the other side of the balance the Court must consider issues raised in the litigation which go to the government's justification for its random testing plan. These involve: considering whether the search was justified at its inception, whether there are reasonable grounds to suspect work related drug use will be uncovered, whether those subjected to the test, generally speaking, are only those who in fact occupy critical positions affecting safety and security and whether use of illegal drugs is likely to impair a critical employee's work efficiency.

 AFGE contends:

 (1) that the true purpose of the testing is law enforcement, not ...


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