South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Agency Process Proper in Taking Aircraft Mechanic's Certification
Description Appeals court held that the process used by a federal agency to require certain airline employees to pass drug tests was proper. The failure of a mechanic to provide a urine sample in the required time was grounds for him to lose his work certification as the agency acted within its expertise.
Topic Administrative Law
Key Words Regulation; Discretion; Deference; Drug Test
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts King, a mechanic for Northwest Airlines, was subject to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. Under FAA rules, he was randomly selected for a drug test but failed to provide a urine sample in the three hours allowed. King was told to drink large quantities of water, but it was unclear if he did. A subsequent medical evaluation provided no excuse for failure to provide a sample. As a result, Northwest fired King and the FAA revoked his mechanic certificate. The FAA Board upheld his dismissal. King appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. The Board serves as a reviewing court for decisions by the FAA regarding certification. The federal courts review such decisions with deference to the expertise of the agency involved. The Board did not abuse its discretion when it held that King did not show good cause for failing to follow drug testing procedures. The drug test procedure did not require the person being tested to be forced to drink water, which is sensible, and King had no medical reason for failing to provide a sample, so the Board's decision is upheld.

Citation King v. National Transportation Safety Board, 361 F.3d 439 (8th Cir., 2004)

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