Employers Tread Legal Minefield of State Laws in Drug Testing Candidates

job interview

With the legalization of medical and even recreational use of marijuana, many employers have been left wondering what their options are when it comes to employee drug testing. Is it even still allowable to test job candidates and employees for a substance they’re permitted to use in their own homes? Employers in the State of Vermont, which legalized recreational marijuana use in July of this year, were unsure prior to the law taking effect.  According to the attorney general’s office, however, little has changed.

“In short, very little is changing,” said Assistant Attorney General Emily Adams of the office’s civil rights unit. “In terms of drug testing, employers can still drug test for marijuana consistent with existing law.”

The new rules were put in place by Act 86, Vermont’s law that allows a person 21 or older to possess small amounts of marijuana (up to an ounce) for consumption in the privacy of their home (not in public places, which is still prohibited). In addition, the law allows a person 21 or older to cultivate two mature marijuana plants and four immature ones. The bill, now established law, was approved by the Vermont Legislature earlier this year and signed into law by Governor Phil Scott.

A Narrow Window for Drug Testing in Some States

So while drug testing for marijuana is still permitted in Vermont, it can only be done under certain circumstances. Drug testing of job applicants can only happen once a conditional offer of employment has been made to that individual. The circumstances under which drug testing may be performed on existing employees is even narrower. For starters, the employer must have good cause to suspect that the employee is using drugs. Secondly, the employer must be able to provide access to a “bona fide” rehabilitation program for alcohol and drug abuse to the employee. Finally, if the employee tests positive, the employer cannot terminate employment if the employee agrees to participate in the employer-offered rehabilitation program.

In Indiana, one large employer has gone even further than the Vermont law: the Belden electric wire factory in Richmond is offering both employment AND substance abuse treatment to applicants who are addicts, according to NPR. Those who complete the training and the rehabilitation are offered jobs. By and large, however, the country is still a hostile place to drug users looking for employment.

Do You Know the Rules?

Since marijuana legalization varies state by state, employers may find themselves climbing over a veritable minefield of rules and regulations, particularly if they interview candidates in different states. In these cases, pre-employment testing experts ensure that pre-employment drug testing is carried out within the confines of state rules and regulations.

Contact DataCheck to inquire about professional pre-employment services such as drug testing and criminal background checks that protect your workers and your business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *