Newsbrief: Ohio Supreme Court Backs Workers in Workers' Comp Drug Test Ruling 12/27/02

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On a 4-3 vote, the Ohio Supreme Court has struck down a state law that said people seeking workers' compensation benefits must prove that drugs or alcohol found in their systems did not cause their injury. Prior to the law, enacted in 2000, employers had to prove that drugs or alcohol caused the injuries if they wanted to contest worker's comp claims. The 2000 law also mandated that workers who refused to take drug tests would be considered to have tested positive.

But a narrow majority of the state Supreme Court found that the law violated protections against "unreasonable seizures" in both the Ohio and the US constitutions. "The right at stake, to be free from unreasonable searches, is so fundamental as to be contained in our bill of rights," wrote Justice Pfiefer for the majority.

The new law did not fit within US Supreme Court guidelines for what justifies "suspicionless searches," Pfiefer wrote. "It is not directed at a segment of the population with drug use known to be greater than that of the general population. It does not target a segment of industry where safety issues are more profound than in other industries. The searches allowed involve everyone who works in Ohio," Pfiefer continued.

The ruling will make it more difficult for employers to challenge workers' compensation claims filed by workers who tested positive for alcohol or drugs. According to the Toledo Blade, business groups were "infuriated" by the ruling. The Blade reported that Republicans and business interests may try to pass the same law again this year in the hope that a newly constituted Ohio Supreme Court -- tilted more heavily toward the GOP after the November elections -- would rule differently.

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Issue #269, 12/27/02 Latin American Anti-Prohibition Conference, Feb. 12-15, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | Cumbre Internacional Sobre Legalización, 15-Dec Febrero, Mérida, México | Newsbrief: New Zealand MP Tanczos Cleared in Marijuana Probe | Newsbrief: Nevada High Court Voids Meth Drug Ingredient Law | Newsbrief: "What About the Children?" -- Colorado Bills Target Home Meth Labs | Newsbrief: Ohio Supreme Court Backs Workers in Workers' Comp Drug Test Ruling | Newsbrief: Brit MP Calls for Drug Testing 10-Year-Olds, Comments Came in Debate Over Criminal Justice Bill | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: US-Trained Thai Drug Unit Pulls Back from Burmese Border | Newsbrief: Columbia, Missouri, Marijuana Petition Has Enough Signatures | Newsbrief: Tampa Ordinance Would Criminalize "Drug Dealer Behavior" | Newsbrief: Drug Checkpoints at West Virginia NORML Rally Draw Lawsuit | Online Petition Launched Supporting MEPs' Call for Ending Prohibition | Media Scan: Montreal Compassion Club, Impact Press on Marijuana Legalization | DC Job Opportunities at DRCNet | The Reformer's Calendar

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