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Thursday, Oct, 2, 2014
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Commissioners are exempt from proposed drug-tests

"Elected officials of the City of Bradenton Beach are not employees of the city for purposes of the drug-free workplace policy," according to City Attorney Dick Groff.

Groff's Oct. 15 opinion may end a question regarding a proposal that will appear before the city commission in November regarding establishing a drug-free workplace for city government in Bradenton Beach.

Drafts of the ordinance called for city commissioners, and candidates for the commission, to be tested for a wide range of drugs and alcohol. The final draft of the proposed law, though, exempted elected officials from the random drug-test provisions, according to Groff.

"The important question ... is whether the city 'employs' the elected officials," Groff said in his opinion. Quoting various dictionary definitions, he said that elected officials are not "'engaged' or 'hired' by the city. If that were the true case, the city would have the power to choose which officials it wanted, and would have the power to discharge those officials. The city has no such power."

For other city employees and department heads, though, the drug-free workplace police does impact. As proposed by the ordinance:

  • Requires all new employees to undergo a drug test for a raft of substances.
  • Requires employees to undergo random, sample drug tests throughout their employment.
  • Calls for employees involved in an accident on the job to undergo a drug test.
  • Has employees suspected of using drugs at the workplace to undergo a drug test as called for by their department head.

Failure to submit to the testing requirements would be grounds for immediate employee dismissal.

The ordinance is scheduled to come before the city commission for first reading Nov. 6 and, based on positive finding by the commission, public hearing and final approval probably will be held in December.

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