Anchorage Police Dep't Employees Ass'n v. Municipality of Anchorage
In Anchorage Police Dep't Employees Ass'n v. Municipality of Anchorage, 24 P.3d 547, 558-59 (Alaska 2001), the Supreme Court of Alaska held that the portion of the municipality's substance abuse testing policy that required police and fire department employees to submit to random and unannounced testing violated the Alaska Constitution . 24 P.3d at 558.
Applying the special-needs balancing test as articulated by the United States Supreme Court, the court first upheld the superior court's finding that the municipality's interest in ensuring public safety outweighed the privacy intrusion that occurs when the employees are subjected to suspicionless urine testing for job-related events, such as application for employment, promotion, demotion, transfer, or after a vehicular accident. Id. at 556-57.
However, the court then concluded that the balance shifted in favor of individual privacy rights in the case of an indefinite requirement of random testing. Id. at 557.
In determining that the municipality failed to establish a special need for the random-testing component of its policy, the court cited three considerations. Id. First, the municipality's random testing, which the court described as "a continuous and unrelenting government scrutiny that exposes the employee to unannounced testing at virtually any time," placed increased demands on employees' reasonable expectations of privacy. Id. at 557-58.
Second, unannounced random testing is more intrusive and has a broader reach than testing triggered by predictable, job- related occurrences such as promotion or transfer. Id. at 558. Third, because random testing has no nexus to any job-related occurrence, it reduces the immediacy of the government's need for suspicionless testing:
In the absence of a documented history of substance abuse, then, the Municipality can claim no immediate, job-contextual need to know the results of a randomly drawn urinalysis; it can only claim a more attenuated institutional interest in checking.