Luis Lebron sued the state of Florida on Tuesday over its drug-testing policy for all adults applying for welfare assistance, writes Catherine Whittenburg.
He is not exactly your stereotypical welfare applicant.
The Orlando resident is trying to finish his accounting studies at the University of Central Florida. A 35-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, he also has sole custody of his four-year-old son and cares for his live-in, mentally disabled mother.
College got more difficult when Lebron’s employer downsized him out of a job in 2008. He has been unable to land another job since, he said.
His veteran’s benefits exhausted and graduation not expected until December, Lebron finally turned this summer to the state for temporary cash assistance — but could not stomach the new drug-screening policy.
“It made me feel really bad; I just felt like everything was caving in on me,” Lebron said Tuesday. “I felt like, I served my country for four years; doesn’t that mean anything anymore? I’ve worked for pretty good companies. I’m going to school; I’m supposed to graduate. I shouldn’t be in this position.”
For the record, he said, he does not take illegal drugs. But “it really hit hard when I had to go down there and go through this.”
Florida is the only state that mandates drug-testing for welfare applicants regardless of whether there is cause to suspect they are using.
Instead of taking the test, Lebron contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. Tuesday, they filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the state, arguing that the test constitutes an “unreasonable search” by the government, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Continue reading Whittenburg’s story here.