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Hawaii County changes policy on urinalysis test after suit settlement

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Hawaii County will no longer require a urinalysis test or medical examination to those offered conditional job offers for positions that are not considered safety sensitive and do not fall under federal transportation safety regulations.

The change in policy is the result of a settlement between the county and Rebekah Taylor-Failor, to whom the county had previously tendered a conditional job offer.

Taylor-Failor, who moved to Kailua-Kona from Oregon to work as a legal clerk with the Hawaii County prosecutor, filed suit against the county in March after she was required to submit to a urinalysis before she could begin working. The suit alleged that the county’s pre-employment medical requirements — which also included a physical examination and completion of a medical history questionnaire — violated her constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure. The suit was filed as a class action on behalf of previous and future county job applicants.

In March, a federal judge granted Taylor-Failor’s request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the county.

Under the settlement, the county retains the right to require urinalysis for safety-sensitive positions and jobs regulated by the federal DOT. The county is also free to amend the list of positions that fall under these two categories.

The county further agreed to conduct medical examinations of non-safety-sensitive employees only when the examinations comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII, relate only to physical attributes directly required of the job offered, and comply with other state and federal regulations.

The county also agreed to pay $115,000 to the ACLU Foundation of Hawaii for attorney fees and related costs.

The settlement was approved and the Taylor-Failor’s lawsuit formally dismissed on Friday.

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