- New York City Transit Authority
A The New York City Transit
Authority (TA) rule prohibited employment of person who uses
TA applied the rule to person
Methadone is a drug use to treat
Trial Record success of methodone maintenance programs
The trial record contains extensive
The success of methadone maintenance programs
The employability of persons taking methadone, and
The ability of prospective employers to detect drug abuse or
other undesirable characteristics of methadone users.
District Court Methadone user are employable
In general, the District Court
concluded that there are substantial numbers of methadone users
who are just as employable as
other members of the general population.
Also normal personnel-screening
procedures would enable TA to identify the unqualified
applicants on an individual basis.
District Court Recognized at least 1/3 would be unemployable.
The District Court recognized that
at least one-third of the persons receiving methadone treatment
-- and probably a good many more -- would unquestionably be
classified as unemployable
District Court Not tolerate blanket exclusion
On these grounds the district court
concluded that the Constitution will not tolerate a blanket
exclusion of all methadone users from TA employment.
The district court then enjoined TA
from denying employment to any persons solely because of
participation in a methadone maintenance program.
Enjoined authorized exclusions
Recognizing, however, the special
responsibility for public safety borne by certain TA employees
and the correlation between longevity in a methadone maintenance
program and performance capability, the
injunction authorized TA to
exclude methadone users from specific categories of
safety-sensitive positions and to
condition eligibility on
satisfactory performance in a methadone program for at least one
Circuit court of appeals
District Court TAs rule is broader than necessary
At its simplest, the district
court's conclusion was that TAs rule is broader than necessary
to exclude those methadone users who are not actually qualified
to work for TA.
Correct and unwise rule
We may assume not only that this
conclusion is correct, but also that it is unwise for an
employer such as TA (D) to rely on a general rule instead of
individualized consideration of every job applicant.
Does not implicate the principles safeguarded by the Equal
But these assumptions concern
matters of personnel policy that do not implicate the principle
safeguarded by the Equal Protection Clause.
Furthers the general Objectives of safety and efficiency
The special classification created
by TA's rule furthers the general Objectives of safety and
Not directed against any individual or category of persons
Moreover, the exclusionary line
challenged by Beazer is not one directed against any individual
or category of persons, but
rather it represents a policy choice made by a branch of
government entitled to make such choices.
Does not circumscribe a class by trait or affiliation
The policy does not circumscribe a
class of persons characterized by some unpopular trait or
Does not create special likelihood of bias
The policy does not create or
reflect any special likelihood of bias on the part of the ruling
Under these circumstances, it
is of no constitutional
significance that the degree of rationality is not as great
with respect to certain ill-defined subparts of the
classification as it is with respect to the classification as a
The Constitution simply does not
authorize a federal court to interfere in TA's policy decision.
DISSENT Justice White
Questioning the rationality
The question before the Court is the
rationality of placing successfully
maintained persons or recently cured
in the same category
as those just attempting to escape
heroin addiction or who have failed to escape it,
rather than in the general population.
No evidence that methadone users are poor employees
TA has produced no evidence to show
that those who have used methadone in the past would be poor
Successfully maintained are treated as different from the
TA's rule of classifying
successfully maintained persons as dispositively different from
the general population is without justification and must fall
before the Equal Protection Clause.
Blanket exclusion is arbitrary and unconstitutional
Also, the blanket exclusion of these
persons as opposed to others with problems or handicaps is
arbitrary and therefore unconstitutional.