Marijuana Laws Cause Chaos in the Workplace

With more US States legalizing the use of medical marijuana while still illegal under Federal law is causing issues in the work place primarily when it comes to employment screening and determining what applicants to hire. Medical marijuana is now legal in many States and the recreational use of marijuana is also legal under State law for States like Colorado and Washington. However, even in Colorado where the medical and recreational use of marijuana is legal, it doesn’t mean that smokers can’t get fired due to marijuana use.

According to the NY Times on June 16th 2015 a Colorado man lost his court case of an alleged unlawful dismissal due to marijuana use during non-work hours. A random drug test led to his forfeiture of employment. Even in the USA’s most marijuana friendly State it is still up to the employer to determine what employment related policies they maintain for all their employees. Of course employers still need to comply with Local, State and Federal laws concerning the hiring, firing, reassigning and promoting of employees. Currently if an employer has company policy in effect of random drug testing for substances like those contained in marijuana then they can fire the employee for breaching this rule.

Companies in the USA need to understand the legalities regarding marijuana use and need to create employment screening policies that make it clear to current and potential employees the consequences of breaking that policy. Employers need to be aware of laws regarding employment and marijuana use as trends like Ban-The-Box spreads across the Country and with the EEOC on the offensive pushing disparate impact. Also employers need to understand when in the hiring process they can perform criminal background checks if Ban-The-Box laws apply in the State they are in then they cannot have a check box on their job application form asking if the applicant has a criminal record. Typically they can only perform criminal background checks after an initial offer is made. With all this going on now is the time to make sure that employment screening and employment related policies are up to date and compliant with relevant law. To read more about this subject read recent press release.


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