Ohio lawmakers consider new legislation after 19 News investigation into your privacy rights during drug screenings at work

Ohio lawmakers consider proposing new legislation to protect your privacy while being drug tested

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio lawmakers say they are considering proposing new laws, after a 19 News investigation into your privacy rights at work.

A local woman who is suing her former employer came to us, saying the company mandated that a lab technician watch her and other employees urinate during random drug testing.

Donna Lundsford says after working at the Sterilite Company for 21 years in Stark County, the company began using the direct observation method during drug testing.

We told you when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled against Lundsford last week, meaning that under current Ohio law, a company can require that a technician watch an employee give a urine sample in an effort to prevent cheating on a drug test.

“It’s more of a head scratcher of like ’Wait, what is my employer allowed to do?” Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney said.

Sweeney and Senator Nickie Antonio are from the same district, representing a portion of Cuyahoga County.

Both began to take action the day 19 Investigates told them about the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision.

“It kind of opens up that bigger can of worms,” Sweeney said.

“It definitely triggered my attention,” Antonio said. “Without your coverage, I would not have known the depth of this.”

Sen. Antonio ran an outpatient drug treatment center in Cleveland years ago.

She says usually the direct observation method of drug testing was only used if court-ordered by a judge, or on someone who had previous dirty drug screenings.

“I am shocked that an employer would use direct observation for their random drug test for their employees,” she said.

Neither Sweeney nor Antonio is against employers having the right to do drug testing.

But, both say there should be rules in place in regard to when direct observation can be used.

“I want employers to be able to call the shots, at the same time the civil rights and protection of privacy need to be there for the employee as well,” Antonio said.

For that reason, both lawmakers say they are beginning conversations with other lawmakers about what can be done.

“I don’t have all the information right now, but I intend to get it,” Antonio said. “Because, at first blush it seems incredibly invasive and borderline humiliation.”

Sweeney said, “We are very capable of doing this in a way that still preserves that dignity and that privacy.”

When we reached out to Sterilite, a spokesperson would not say whether the company still uses the direct observation method.

However, when the attorneys argued this case in front of the supreme court, the representative from a drug testing company said Sterilite was just one of many companies to have ever used the method.

Last Friday, at least one other representative gave us a statement, along the lines of what the lawamkers said in this story.

In an email, State Representative Juanita Brent said:

“The state of Ohio needs to have legislation that will allow employers to test employees for drugs, with the employees dignity in tact. Getting undress in front of a stranger can cause unnecessary trauma to an employee. One idea I have that needs to be vetted would include, the employee removing all clothes and only wearing a medical gown while taking the drug test (urinating). This process will allow private urination and reduce the possibility of fake or another non-employee urine to be used. If Ohio wants our job force to increase than all employees must be able to work with dignity and not in fear of losing their job.”

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