The Law Regarding Drug Testing in Aro v Legal Recovery Law Offices
The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling. First, the Court determined that the Workers’ Compensation rules in California do not prevent the Plaintiffs from recovering monetary damages for emotional distress. Generally, an emotional distress claim is preempted if it arose out of the ordinary scope and risks of an employment relationship. The Court reasoned that the random drug test administered in this case violated a fundamental right to privacy, which is protected by the California Constitution, and therefore exceeded the risks and expectations inherent in the employment relationship.
Next, based on the evidence presented at trial, the Court of Appeal concluded that the employer’s conduct was sufficiently extreme and outrageous to constitute an intentional infliction of emotional distress. First, there was no ample notice of a random drug test to the employees, and there was also no individualized suspicion of drug use by the two Plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs were asked to sign a consent form in front of other employees, and were threatened with suspension when they resisted. Moreover, evidence suggests that the Plaintiffs were subjected to the random drug test only after they complained to the employer of unpaid overtime. Finally, Plaintiffs’ testimony created ample evidence that the random drug test caused them to suffer anxiety and humiliation, with one of the Plaintiffs experiencing heightened blood pressure after the test.