Former Sterilite employee says person watched during urine drug test to ensure there was no ‘cheating’

Donna Lunsford, a 20-year veteran of the Stark County company, says she thought it was another routine drug screening, until they made her practically disrobe and watched as she used the bathroom

Former Sterilite worker says person watched during urine drug test to ensure there was no 'cheating'

STARK COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - Imagine if you had someone watching your private parts, as you give a urine sample for a routine drug test.

That’s why a local woman is suing her former employer.

Her case is now in the hands of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Donna Lunsford explained the embarrassment she went through while taking the simple drug test.

“There’s nothing that could be any more private than your private parts,” she said.

She says she was never opposed to being tested for drugs. She went through it for years for her job.

But, she says her employer crossed the line the day someone asked her to give a urine sample, while someone watched.

“Was I appalled? Yes. Was it degrading? Yes,” she said.

Lunsford worked at the Sterilite Company’s warehouse in Stark County for more than 20 years.

In October of 2016, she says she walked into a small bathroom to give a routine urine sample.

“And, this lady follows me into the bathroom and I was like ‘excuse me,' and she said ‘well, We’re here to observe,' ” Lunsford said.

She says her company then informed her that it had switched to a drug testing method called "direct observation."

“You had to turn sideways, pull your shirt up under your breasts. You pull your pants down to your ankles, and they literally view your genitals as your urinating,” she said.

At the height of the country’s opioid crisis, the company’s attorney, Daniel J Rudary, told the Ohio Supreme Court earlier this year, that the method was intended to keep people from cheating.

“The legitimate business interest is ensuring the integrity of the test,” Rudary said.

Justice Melody Stewart replied, “But, was there information about these particular employees that would indicate that they would not supply a urine test under honest circumstances?”

Lunsford’s attorney told justices, no.

“I spent 21 years there. I can’t tell you how many drug tests I took for that place,” Lunsford said. “I never failed a drug test, I never falsified a drug test. They never thought I did. Why would you put somebody through that?”

19 Investigates wanted to know, could it happen to others?

Sterilite argues that according to Ohio law, businesses do not need probable cause to implement new testing methods such as direct observation.

U.S. Healthworks is the company that administered the testing.

Their representative, Joshua Miklowski, told justices that Sterilite is just one of several companies that uses its direct observation method.

“There is no obligation to perform a less intrusive method,” Miklowski said.

Lunsford says she took two more tests after the first one under direct observation to avoid losing her job.

“It is very belittling what they put you through to have a job,” she said. “They chose the cheapest way for them, but it wasn’t the less invasive way for us.”

After she formally complained and filed her suit, she says the company terminated her.

19 Investigates reached out to Sterilite about Lunsford’s case.

In a statement, the company said:

“Sterilite takes seriously its responsibility to treat all current and former employees fairly. All employees deserve dignity, respect and to not have the details of their employment record discussed by their employer in a public forum. For these reasons, Sterilite does not publicly comment on any employee-related matters.”

The spokesperson did not answer our question on whether the company still uses the “direct observation” method.

We will let you know as soon as the supreme court comes down with a decision on Lunsford’s case.

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