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ACLU Settles Urinalysis Lawsuit with County

Posted September 14, 2015, 11:40 AM HST Updated September 14, 2015, 12:19 PM HST
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A County of Hwai’i pre-employment requirement of submitting a urinalysis and revealing private medical history will end.

The county settled on a lawsuit filed on March 9 on behalf of Rebekah Taylor-Failor, a Kona resident who began working for the county as a Legal Clerk II in March but was faced with the requirement of filling out a personal questionnaire about her medical history and was asked for urine sample for analysis, a requirement of all previous employees.

“I am grateful that I was able to begin working for the County without having to sacrifice the privacy of my medical information. I will proudly continue to work hard every day on behalf of the people of Hawai’i County,” Taylor-Failor said.

Within the lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai’i argued that urinalysis testing reveals highly sensitive private medical information, including whether or not someone is pregnant, has diabetes, is biologically male or female, has high cholesterol, or has a sexually transmitted disease. The lawsuit asserted that these things were not related to actual job requirements.

ACLU’s attempts to resolve the issues without legal action were rejected by the county. It was at that point that ACLU and co-counsel Adam Wolf filed the lawsuit asking for a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the county from violating Taylor-Failor’s constitutional rights to privacy.

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Taylor-Failor was granted the restraining order by the court, who noted that “the County has proffered no explanation as to why it is entitled to search Taylor-Failor’s urine before she may begin employment in her light duty clerical, non-safety-sensitive position… Employment requirements cannot stand where they violate rights of a constitutional dimension.”

“The Constitution protects government employees from invasive medical examinations, and the County has no need to demand that its clerks reveal what medical conditions they may have,” said Wolf. “Today’s settlement ensures that the County will respect its employees’ privacy for many years to come.

Hawai’i County will suspend the urinalysis and medical screening requirement for all prospective county employees. Within the settlement, the county will also pay $115,000 in attorney’s fees and costs.

Three percent of county employees that are deemed “safety-sensitive” in roles like law enforcement will be excluded and will still be required to complete the testing.

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