Columbus, Ohio – On August 26, 2020, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued its opinion in Lunsford v. Sterilite of Ohio, LLC, Slip Op. No. 2020-Ohio-4193. The Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision reversed an Ohio Court of Appeals ruling that had reinstated a putative class action against Sterilite brought by a group of current and former employees claiming that Sterilite’s use of “direct observation” urinalysis screening violated their common law right to privacy.
BMD originally obtained dismissal of the case in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, which was reversed by a decision of the Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals in August 2018. Following the Fifth District’s adverse ruling, BMD successfully petitioned the Supreme Court of Ohio to accept jurisdiction and hear the case. BMD partner Daniel Rudary argued Sterilite’s appeal to the Supreme Court on January 28, 2020.
In its decision reversing the appellate court, the Supreme Court majority adopted BMD’s argument that the plaintiff employees consented to drug testing under the “direct observation” method when they voluntarily produced urine samples while being observed by a same-sex monitor in a designated restroom facility. The Supreme Court also reaffirmed Ohio’s long standing rule of employment-at-will, holding that because “Sterilite had the legal right to terminate appellees’ employment at any time, appellees’ argument that their consent was involuntary because of their fear of termination necessarily fails.”
BMD Litigation Member John Childs and Partner Daniel Rudary represented Sterilite before the Supreme Court of Ohio. Their brief to the Supreme Court can be read here, and Attorney Rudary’s January 28, 2020 oral argument can be viewed here.
See additional coverage on the decision in the ABA Journal and Bloomberg News.