Thursday, November 13, 2014

Drug Testing In The Military | Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility Discussion Groups

Using your own work experience, imagine a circumstance in which your supervisor wanted to monitor your behavior off the job. Describe the circumstances, including how your conduct is being monitored and why your conduct is being monitored.

There is no need to imagine a scenario. I am all too familiar with my employer and supervisors monitoring my behavior off duty. I am former military and during my time in the service I was required to submit to random urinalysis screenings, otherwise known as drug testing. The purpose for this was to catch anyone who was violating the Uniformed Code of Military Justice by using drugs. I had to go to many of these drug screenings during my enlistment. They would call you and tell you to report to the medical clinic immediately. You had no choice. You could not reschedule.

Would you consider your example to involve a minor, moderate, or severe invasion on an individual’s privacy? Explain your reasoning. Share your un-emotional, well-defined, evidence-based response to your boss to support your viewpoint.

I would consider this not only a severe invasion of an individuals privacy, but a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution states:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." (US Constitution, 1789)

I am not talking about a private company doing drug testing, for that would be a different matter entirely. I am talking about the federal government forcing its employees to submit to a search. That is what drug testing is... a search. The Fourth Amendment is meant to prevent the government from conducting searches or seizures without warrants; however, in this case, they are clearly violating the Constitution. The searches they are conducting are without warrants, probable cause or reasonable suspicion that their employees are even involved in drug use.

What issues led to the employer’s monitoring of the employee? Use one ethical theory or perspective to help support the employer’s viewpoint, and use a scholarly source as your evidence.

There have obviously been people who have used drugs while in the military. I am sure the military used a Utilitarian mindset when deciding to start doing random drug testing. They probably figured that it was for the greater good that they discover who is violating the UCMJ, in order to make corrective actions. They likely figured, as a Utilitarian would, that the image of a strong and disciplined military is more important than the rights of individuals. "Large-scale drug testing of federal workers only began with President Reagan’s 1986 call for a “drug-free federal workplace” (Executive Order 12564). The order required workers in “sensitive positions,” approximately 17 percent of the federal workforce, to submit to drug screens" (Brunet, 2004).

What about the employee’s viewpoint? Use one ethical theory or perspective to support the employee’s right to privacy outside of work, and use a scholarly source as your evidence.

One can use the ethical theory of ethical egoism when trying to find an employee's viewpoint. It is not within the employee's best interest to allow the government to inspect their bodily fluids upon demand. Even if they have nothing to hide, the government gets its rights from the people it governs. A government that governs by force or coercion, i.e. without the consent of the people, is practicing tyranny. It is in the employees best interest to ensure that the government respects his/her rights of privacy and does not violate the Constitution. There is no benefit for an individual, whatsoever, in allowing the government to search their bodily fluids. With that in mind, the ethical egoism theory would be adamantly opposed to this practice. The ethical egoist would think it is "unfair to require millions of workers who were not even suspected of using drugs to submit to a “humiliating and intrusive” drug test" (Brunet, 2004). 



US Constitution, 1789, Retrived at:

Brunet, James R.. Drug Testing in Law Enforcement Agencies : Social Control in the Public Sector. New York, NY, USA: LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC, 2004.  Retrieved from ProQuest ebrary.

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