SW Legal studies in Business

Part-time Library Employee Cannot Be Required to Take Drug Test

Appeals court held that a city’s policy that all job applicants must, if offered employment, submit to a drug test violated constitutional rights. The job in question, part-time library employee, was not safety sensitive nor was there any indication of problems related to drug usage that may justify such a requirement.

Topic Employment Law
Key Words

Drug Testing; Constitutional Rights

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Lanier applied for a part-time job at the City of Woodburn, Oregon, public library. The position would involve getting and re-shelving books and staffing the desk in the youth services area. The city gave her a conditional offer of employment, subject to successful completion of a background check and pre-employment drug and alcohol screening (urine sample) as required by city policy for all new hires. Lanier refused to be tested, so the city withdrew the job offer. She then sued, contending that the drug test requirement violated her rights under the Fourth Amendment. The district court held in Lanier’s favor. The city appealed.


Affirmed. The city failed to articulate any special need to screen library applicants for drug use, and therefore city’s policy requiring candidates of choice for city positions to pass a pre-employment drug test as a condition of the job offer was unconstitutional as applied to applicant. The city asserted no evidence of a drug problem among the targeted population, and the officials who were required to pass a drug test were neither involved in interdiction, nor did they typically perform “high-risk, safety-sensitive tasks.” The link between drug screening of applicant and the city’s interest in protecting children was tenuous at best, as there was no indication that the library had any in responsibility for protecting children, that children’s safety and security was entrusted to such part-time employees, or that the employee was in a position to exert influence over children by virtue of continuous interaction or supervision.

Citation Lanier v. City of Woodburn, 518 F.3d 1147 (9th Cir., 2008)

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