CHARLESTON – A Berkeley County sheriff’s deputy has lost his argument that he was unfairly made to take a drug test, which came back negative.

Michael Buracker sued the Berkeley County Council, his official employer, over a non-random drug screen ordered on April 14, 2011. The state Supreme Court ruled against him on Sept. 3, citing a 1990 decision regarding drug testing.

“Syllabus Point 2 of Twigg states that requiring an employee to submit to a drug test is not a violation of the individual’s right to privacy where it is conduct while the employee’s job responsibility involves public safety or the safety of others,” the court wrote in a memorandum decision.

“It is undisputed that a law enforcement officer’s job responsibility involves public safety and welfare.”

Berkeley County Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster heard a rumor that Buracker was using illegal drugs, and ordered one of Buracker’s superior officers to physically escort him to a drug test.

After a negative result, Buracker filed his lawsuit in June 2011, and the council moved to dismiss four months later. It was granted in August 2012.

The trial court agreed with the council’s argument that Twigg v. Hercules Corp., the 1990 decision, applied.

Buracker argued Lemaster did not have a reasonable good faith objective suspicion of drug use.

The trial court ruled Buracker was asking it to interpret Twigg in a way that would transform the word “or” into the word “and” as well as adding a limitation it only pertains to “random” drug testing.

Twigg says drug testing is OK based on a “reasonable good faith objective suspicion of an employee’s drug usage or while an employee’s job responsibility involves public safety or the safety of others.”

From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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