John L. Shahdanian II and Raymond J. Seigler scored a second victory in the matter of Mollo v. Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners (PVSC) when the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the trial court’s grant of Summary Judgment.  The plaintiff, a former PVSC employee, was terminated from his position as a landscaper after a random drug test revealed that he had ingested several different controlled substances.  The plaintiff sued, claiming that PVSC’s random drug testing policy was unconstitutional because his position at the nation’s fifth-largest wastewater treatment facility was not “safety sensitive” and, thus, testing without reasonable suspicion amounted to an unlawful search and seizure.  He also claimed that his termination was wrongful pursuant to a “second chance agreement,” into which he had entered with PVSC after he had failed a number of previous drug tests.  In a decision authored by the Hon. Maryanne Trump Barry, the Third Circuit found that the trial court had correctly focused on the inherent dangers present at PVSC’s facilities and on plaintiff’s daily interaction with those dangers, including the operation of vehicles on site and the potential responsibility for operating lifesaving equipment in emergency situations.  In affirming the grant of Summary Judgment below, the Third Circuit agreed that the plaintiff was, in fact, employed in a “safety sensitive” position and that PVSC’s narrowly drawn random drug testing policy was not an unreasonable or unlawful intrusion into the plaintiff’s privacy.

Chasan Lamparello
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