Why aren't workplace drug tests contrary to the Fifth Amendment?

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5 Answers

  • 4 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Well, first of all, that would be because "drug testing" i.e., peeing in a cup, is not testifying against oneself, as the 5th Amendment refers to, and for which I presume you are referring, which states, "No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself."

    However, the issue would possibly be considered an infringement of unlawful search and seizure, protected under the 4th Amendment, because they are seizing your bodily fluids to find evidence of a potential crime. However, unless the workplace in question is "the government" or heavily affiliated with the government, so that it could be construed as an act being committed by the government, then the 4th Amendment may not apply at all, however, there could be arguments for or against the constitutional rights of the employee, depending on the circumstances, and if the employer is closely intertwined enough, to be considered a government actor, that would enable the employee to raise constitutional grounds that it is a violation of their 4th Amendment rights, which states,

    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    However, all that said, there are also cases where a person working for a private employer may have a cause of action under certain state privacy laws, and also, there are also cases involving a government employer or pseudo-government employer, where they found it was still lawful, because there was a justification for the drug testing for the particular job, such as for train operators, in the landmark US Supreme Court case of, Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association 489 US 602 (1989), which held that random drug testing of public employees is constitutional under the fourth amendment if the employees tested work in 'safety sensitive' positions.

    Private employers also may conduct random drug testing without violating employee's privacy rights where the business necessity for the test outweighs the employee's expectation of privacy. Five factors are generally significant in evaluating a privacy claim over drug testing and the handling of the results:

    The employer's business needs which prompted the testing;

    The scope of the testing;

    The manner of the testing;

    Employee notice of or consent to the test; and,

    The storing of the results.

    This has also been upheld in multiple school cases, involving sports and extra curricular activities regarding mandatory drug testing, under the 4th Amendment as well, since they are optional, and not compulsory to graduate, but do not involve workplaces, but still also somewhat on point:

    Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995) .

    Board of Education v. Earls, 536 U.S. 822 (2002)

    Also, similarly to the school sport and extracurricular cases, since most jobs are entirely at will, i.e., you can quit at anytime, you always have the option in that you don't have to choose to work for your employer if you do not want to take the test. You can refuse, under possibility of not being hired, or if already working there, being fired, or you can submit, knowing that you may either not be hired or lose your job, which is different than being charged for a crime where you can be put in jail, and otherwise may have no choice in the matter.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Because employment is a contractual relation, and contracts are voluntary.

    What the 5th Amendment is saying, is that *the government* can't just decide to invade your personal space, and claim it has a "right" to do so.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    4 years ago

    Because the Bill of Rights are restrictions on the Government, not private employers.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    I hear you. Like in a lotta things, INJUSTICE prevails

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Fourth Amendment

    Random drug tests are unreasonable search and seizures

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