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Lunsford v. Sterilite of Ohio, LLC

165 N.E.3d 245, 162 Ohio St. 3d 231 (2020)

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Lunsford v. Sterilite of Ohio, LLC

Ohio Supreme Court

165 N.E.3d 245, 162 Ohio St. 3d 231 (2020)

Facts

Sterilite of Ohio, LLC (Sterilite) (defendant) had a substance-abuse policy that required its employees to submit to drug testing. U.S. Healthworks Medical Group of Ohio, Inc. (Healthworks) (defendant) administered the drug testing through a direct-observation method that involved a Healthworks employee watching Sterilite employees provide urine samples. If a Sterilite employee refused to take a test, failed to provide a sample, or had traces of prohibited drugs in his sample, he would be disciplined or fired. Employees were required to sign forms consenting to drug testing, but the forms did not explain that the direct-observation method would be used. Four at-will employees of Sterilite (the plaintiff employees) (plaintiffs) filed a lawsuit against Sterilite and Healthworks in state court, arguing that Sterilite and Healthworks invaded their privacy through intrusion on seclusion by requiring them to expose their genitals during drug tests. The plaintiff employees signed forms consenting to drug testing and, at the time of the testing, did not object to the use of the direct-observation method. Sterilite and Healthworks argued that they did not invade the plaintiff employees’ privacy, because the plaintiff employees consented to drug testing. The plaintiff employees argued that their consent was given involuntarily because they were afraid that if they did not consent, they would be fired. The trial court dismissed the case. The court of appeals reversed the trial court, holding that the plaintiff employees had a reasonable expectation of privacy involving their genitals, and that the direct-observation method may have violated that expectation. Sterilite and Healthworks appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Dissent (Stewart, J.)

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