Up In Smoke: New York City Bans Pre-Employment Drug Testing For Marijuana

Author:Ms Jill Rosenberg and Anna Matsuo
Profession:Orrick
 
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Effective May 10, 2020, New York City employers may no longer test prospective employees for marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. This bill- which is the first of its kind in the country- makes such testing an unlawful discriminatory practice under the New York City Human Rights Law.

The New York City Council passed the new bill on April 9, 2019 with a 41-4 vote. Councilman and Public Advocate, Jumanne Williams, sponsored the bill and testified in support of its passage that it would not "giv[e] permission for anyone to come to work high," but rather is intended to remove a barrier to employment for New Yorkers, particularly those from communities of color. Williams stated that failed drug tests historically lead to a "depletion in the labor pool and the inability of many to advance their careers," which is "harmful to employers and employees alike."

While the bill, No. 1445-A, prohibits most New York City employers from requiring a prospective employee to submit to pre-employment testing for THC or marijuana, it contains several exceptions for certain types of jobs. For example, it permits testing for safety and security sensitive jobs such as police officers or peace officers, jobs requiring a commercial driver's license, and positions requiring the supervision of care of children, medical patients, and other vulnerable persons. The bill also excepts jobs that require drug testing as a condition of receiving a federal contract or grant and notably does not interfere with required federal drug testing mandated by the federal Department of Transportation. The bill provides that the New York City Commission on Human Rights promulgate rules regarding its...

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