On May 25, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey granted an employer’s motion to dismiss a putative class action in Zanetich v. Wal-Mart Stores E., Inc. Addressing an issue of first impression, the Court held that job applicants do not have a private right of action under the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (the “CREAMMA”), the state’s recreational marijuana law. The Court also held that there is no common law claim for wrongful failure to hire in violation of public policy in New Jersey. Continue Reading Failure to Hire Claims Go Up In Smoke for Pot-Using New Jersey Job Applicant
On September 18, 2022, California amended its primary employment discrimination law to specifically regulate the drug testing methodologies that employers may use when making hiring, termination, and other employment decisions relating to cannabis users. More recently, on May 9, 2023, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed similar legislation relating to initial hiring decisions. Both laws, which will be effective January 1, 2024, are the first of their kind because they require employers to have a basic understanding of a somewhat complicated issue – the science behind cannabis testing.Continue Reading Clearing the Haze: The Method and the Madness Behind the New Cannabis Laws in California and Washington
On March 17, 2023, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued a decision regarding employee use of medical marijuana in the workers’ compensation context. The decision in Fegley v. Firestone Tire & Rubber (Workers’ Comp. Appeal Bd.) addresses an issue of first impression. The court held that an employer’s failure to reimburse an employee’s out-of-pocket costs for medical marijuana to treat his work-related injury was a violation of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (“WC Act”). The decision is significant for Pennsylvania employers. Given this decision, Pennsylvania employers could be subject to penalties under the WC Act if they do not reimburse employees for medical marijuana use—even though marijuana is illegal under federal law and cannot be prescribed by any doctors.Continue Reading Pennsylvania Court Holds that It Is “High Time” Employers Reimburse Employees Who Use Medical Marijuana to Treat Work Related Injuries
Nevada, like most states, has legalized cannabis for medicinal use. Although permitted under state law, a Nevada employee may still face discipline under a company’s drug policy. To address that concern, the Nevada Legislature passed a law requiring employers to attempt to make reasonable accommodations for its employees’ use of medical cannabis outside of the workplace. As a matter of first impression, the Nevada Supreme Court recently decided that employees may sue employers who violate that law.Continue Reading Nevada Supreme Court Finds a Private Right of Action Under Nevada’s Medical Cannabis Law
The District of Columbia legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2010 and began to permit individuals to use the drug recreationally in 2015. Last month, on July 13, 2022, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the “Cannabis Employment Protections Amendment Act of 2022” (D.C. Act 24-483), joining the growing list of jurisdictions prohibiting most employers from taking adverse action (e.g., rejecting job applicants or terminating employees) for off-duty cannabis use. The bill must go through a congressional review period before becoming law.
About the Act
What employers may not do:
The Act will make it unlawful for most employers to refuse to hire, terminate, or take other adverse employment action based on (1) an individual’s use of cannabis or status as a medical cannabis program patient or (2) the presence of cannabinoid metabolites in the individual’s bodily fluids in any drug test, absent “additional factors indicating impairment.” On the latter point, an employer can take action against an employee for cannabis use if “the employee manifests specific articulable symptoms while working, or during the employee’s hours of work, that substantially decrease or lessen the employee’s performance of the duties or tasks of the employee’s job position,” or if such “specific articulable symptoms interfere with an employer’s obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace as required by District or federal occupational safety and health law.”Continue Reading District of Columbia Provides Employment Protections to Cannabis Users
Every year, employers find themselves revisiting their marijuana and drug testing policies to account for newly enacted laws at the state and local level. Now is no different. Below are some highlights of what happened in 2021.
On June 22, 2021, Connecticut legalized recreational marijuana use by adults 21 years and older. Although provisions relating to possession are effective…
Continue Reading Marijuana Laws Impacting Employers Spread Like a Weed in 2021: A Year in Review
Seyfarth Synopsis: In the first six months of 2021, several states legalized marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes, including New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and New Mexico. States show no signs of slowing down. On June 22, 2021, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill that legalized recreational marijuana use by adults 21 years and older. Although provisions relating to possession are effective now (as of July 1, 2021), the employment-related provisions are not effective until July 1, 2022. Because the new law will prohibit many employers from taking certain actions in the absence of clear policies addressing marijuana use or evidence of impairment, Connecticut employers that do not have written drug and alcohol testing policies should consider developing them in the near future and those companies that have policies in place should review and, if necessary, revise their current drug and alcohol testing policies. In addition, all employers should consider training their managers on making reasonable suspicion determinations.
Can employers still maintain a drug and alcohol-free workplace?
Yes. Employers do not have to tolerate employees being under the influence of marijuana while they are working and they may prohibit employees from using and possessing marijuana during work hours and while performing their job duties or on company premises. However, employers still must be mindful of the state law protections currently available to medical marijuana users including, among other things, not taking adverse action or otherwise discriminating against someone based solely on their status as a qualifying medical marijuana patient or their possession of medical marijuana.Continue Reading Connecticut Becomes the 20th Jurisdiction to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
Recently, when dismissing a job-applicant’s disability discrimination claims brought under California state law, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued two welcome reminders to employers. First, an employer can condition an offer of employment on the completion of a preemployment drug screen, including a test for marijuana. This is true even though California has legalized marijuana…
Continue Reading California District Court Dismisses Disability Claims Based on Failed Preemployment Marijuana Screen
On April 28, 2021, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed Bill No. 200625 which, effective January 1, 2022, prohibits employers from requiring prospective employees to undergo testing for the presence of marijuana as a condition of employment. Currently, only New York City and Nevada have similar drug testing restrictions, but we expect this trend to continue. Nevada prohibits employers from taking…
Continue Reading Philadelphia Joins New York City and Nevada in Restricting Pre-Employment Marijuana Tests
Recently, when dismissing a former employee’s claims brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the District of Connecticut issued two welcome reminders to employers. First, to set out an ADA disability discrimination claim, a plaintiff must allege that the employer was aware of the plaintiff’s disability. Second, and just as important, the ADA does not provide protection against discrimination based solely on medical marijuana use or require accommodation of medical marijuana use (although state laws may provide some protections).
In Eccleston v. City of Waterbury, Case 19-cv-1614 (D. Conn. Mar. 22, 2021), Plaintiff was a firefighter for the City of Waterbury. According to the Complaint, in 2017, Plaintiff was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Sometime thereafter, Plaintiff informed his battalion chief that he was thinking of applying for a medical marijuana card. Plaintiff was told that doing so “would not be a good idea.” Even so, Plaintiff obtained a marijuana card in January 2018. Critically, when talking to his battalion chief, Plaintiff did not mention his PTSD diagnosis, or that he sought a medical marijuana card for the purpose of treating a purported disabling condition.Continue Reading Firefighter’s Federal Disability Claims Based on Pot Use Snuffed Out by Connecticut District Court