In the past two days we've received great news about two awful proposals: Both the Chicago Housing Authority and Aldermen on the Chicago City Council have backed off proposals to drug test individuals without individualized suspicion.
The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) had proposed to mandate drug testing for all adult housing residents and applicants, which spawned vocal opposition by residents, as well as a letter of protest from the ACLU. ACLU of Illinois Staff Attorney Adam Schwartz pointed out:
[D]rug testing invades privacy and bodily autonomy. Drug testing by means of urinalysis is humiliating for many people, and embarrassing or unpleasant for many others. Drug testing in the absence of individualized suspicion is stigmatizing: it creates a presumption of guilt that can only be rebutted by a negative test result.
Just yesterday, in response to opposition, the CHA dropped the proposed drug testing from its revised tenants agreement (Read the ACLU response).
Today, the Workforce, Development, and Audit Committee of the Chicago City Council followed suit, cancelling a meeting scheduled to consider a proposal to begin random drug testing of all city employees and elected officials. Mary Dixon, Legislative Director of the ACLU of Illinois, sent a letter to the committee outlining the problems with such a proposal:
“The City of Chicago faces myriad challenges and few resources for addressing them,” added Dixon. “Suspicionless drug testing for 35,000 City employees does not advance solutions for these challenges – and violates the privacy rights of the these employees.”
“We urge the Committee to reject this measure so that the City Council can turn its attention to pressing priorities.”
We are pleased both the CHA and the Workforce, Development, and Audit Committee have taken seriously the privacy claims of residents and employees. Drug testing without individualized suspicion is simply too great an intrusion.