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County halts some pre-hire urinalyses

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Hawaii County says it is revising its procedures regarding pre-employment medical examinations and urinalyses.

In the meantime the county says it will no longer require a urinalysis for anyone to whom it gives a conditional job offer, except for applicants for safety-sensitive jobs, positions that are governed by federal transportation safety regulations and any other job that potentially affects the health and safety of fellow employees and the public.

The move is in response to a lawsuit filed by Rebekah Taylor-Failor, to whom the county had given a conditional job offer.

U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson issued a temporary restraining order in March preventing the county from requiring Taylor-Failor to submit to a pre-employment urinalysis, clearing the way for her to start her job as a legal clerk in Kailua-Kona.

On Monday, Watson approved an agreement between the county and Taylor-Failor. The county agreed to stop pre-employment urinalyses for candidates for jobs that are not safety-sensitive, which it said it already halted after the court issued the TRO.

Hawaii County officials could not be reached for comment.

For her part of the agreement, Taylor-Failor withdrew her request for an injunction to prevent the county from conducting urinalyses and medical examinations until the resolution of her lawsuit. Her lawsuit also will no longer call for protecting all future county job applicants.

The agreement does not affect other terms sought in Taylor-Failor’s lawsuit, including federal court oversight, relief and monetary damages for current and former job candidates who were required to submit to medical examination and urinalysis, attorney fees and a declaration that the county violated the U.S. and Hawaii constitutions.

Taylor-Failor said in the lawsuit that in addition to a physical examination and urinalysis, the county requires job candidates to answer a medical history questionnaire asking them whether they have had a sexually transmitted disease, hemorrhoids, cancer or a mental illness. She said the questionnaire also asks prospective employees whether they have ever been rejected from military service, employment or health insurance coverage for health reasons.

State law allows for the pre-employment drug testing of employees.

Kauai County requires all incoming employees to undergo physical examination and drug testing.

In light of the TRO in the Taylor-Failor case, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa’s office said the county is reviewing its hiring policies.

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