TEXAS CITY

A former city employee who was fired after she refused to take a drug test filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Thursday against the city and its mayor, alleging the city violated her due process rights by requiring drug tests.

Michelle Garcia filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Texas against Texas City and Mayor Matt Doyle on Thursday, according to federal court records.

Garcia was an administrative assistant in the city secretary’s office from June 2014 until June 2017, according to the lawsuit.

During that time, Garcia was randomly tested for drugs four times, the lawsuit asserted. When she was asked to take a fifth test in June 2017, she refused and was fired, according to the lawsuit.

She appealed the firing to the city, but it was upheld, according to the lawsuit.

The city has a written policy allowing for random drug tests, regardless of reasonable suspicion, according to the lawsuit. Employees who refuse will be fired, according to the policy.

Garcia’s lawsuit argues her firing amounted to a violation of her fourth amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure and 14th Amendment right protecting due process, according to the lawsuit.

“Requiring submission to suspicion-less drug and alcohol screening and a limitless background check would violate Plaintiff’s constitutional rights to privacy and to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures,” the lawsuit said.

Garcia asked the court to declare her firing unconstitutional, to order her re-hired and to reward her lost wages, damages and other costs.

The lawsuit names both the city of Texas City and Texas City Matt Doyle as defendants. A pretrial hearing on the suit is scheduled for July.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(3) comments

Paul Hyatt

While she may have her rights to not be searched for drugs in her body, the City also has the right not to allow her to work for them. Standing up for your rights means that sometimes things will not go as you want them to go. Might want to think about getting another type of job that doesn't require drug testing if you can not stay off of drugs....Better yet you might want to get help to stay off of them....

Randy Chapman

This case needs to be taken to its conclusion and not settled by Texas City to save money. If she doesn't want to take a drug test a year, or so, then she can find a place of employment that doesn't test.

Terry Moore

I agree if drug testing is stated as a requirement by your employer there should be no case here. I always assumed it was random and would not single anyone out specifically. If she thought it was an issue then why not voice it before and not after she was fired? Some people go out looking for a lawsuit.

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