Job Drug Testing As Marijuana Legalization Expands

Many U.S. states have recently legalized the use of marijuana either for medical or recreational purposes (or both). This has left some employees to wonder whether they’re protected from losing their jobs if they are caught out as marijuana users in their drug tests.

This has also left employers wondering what their rights are to drug test or dismiss for marijuana use. In most states, it’s legal for employers to dismiss employees for using or being under the influence of marijuana at work. When it comes to off-duty use, however, the picture gets a little muddier.

Legal experts on the subject note that it depends on your state’s laws and whether you were using marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

Medical Marijuana

To date, medical marijuana is legal in 33 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. In these states, people with serious health conditions can register for a medical marijuana card with the approval and authorization of a doctor. In many of these states, workers who have been approved to use medical marijuana can’t be prosecuted under state law. It’s important to remember, however, that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, even for legitimate medical purposes.

Recreational Marijuana

The recreational use of cannabis is legal to date in 11 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington). Most of these states do NOT protect workers from dismissal due to marijuana use as long as the drug test is conducted under legal circumstances.

Legal drug testing can be a bit of a rules minefield. It’s generally safe for employers to drug test applicants after making a conditional offer of employment. In many states, however, employers are prevented from conducting routine or random drug testing of existing employees, unless the employee appears intoxicated at work (although determining what constitutes “impaired behavior” is a complex issue itself), was involved in an accident, or holds a safety-sensitive position such as vehicle driver.

Step Carefully in Drug Screenings

Drug screenings are an important part of the hiring process for many companies. They help protect companies and their employees. It’s essential, however, that employers ensure they’re following all the rules, which have gotten more complex in the face of marijuana legalization. With the services of a professional pre-employment background screening company like DataCheck, you can protect your workers and your business and avoid negligent hiring lawsuits while still complying with the law.

Contact DataCheck today!

For Workers with a Conviction, Employment Can Be Hard to Find

While unemployment may currently be at an all-time low in the United States, there is one group of people who continually finds it difficult to gain employment: people with criminal records.

A team of researchers from Arizona State University conducted a three-year study on the impact of having a criminal record on employment-related outcomes, varying by race and gender. In the study, researchers paired candidates according to their demographics (white men, African American women, etc.). Each pair included one person with a criminal record and one without. The pairs sent applications for the same jobs, and all skills and qualifications on résumés were matched.

Researchers found that results were heavily skewed by race. Both black and Hispanic men were less likely to receive a positive response from employers—including a callback or email for an interview or a job offer—compared with white men. In fact, white men with a criminal record had more positive responses than black men with no criminal record. When the results were examined by gender, it was found that men with criminal records were more likely than women with criminal records to receive a negative response from employers.

Among the most stigmatized job applicants—including welfare recipients, the short-term unemployed, individuals with only short-term and part-time work histories—applicants with criminal histories were the least likely to be hired. As approximately 30 percent of American adults have some type of criminal conviction, it’s a troubling problem.

“Ban the Box” Legislation

Statistics like these have led many states and municipalities to implement so-called “ban the box” legislation, which requires employers to consider individuals’ applications before they check criminal records in an attempt to give candidates with criminal records a fairer shot at employment.

Ban-the-box laws prohibit employers from asking applicants about criminal history on an initial job application. However, some go further, requiring employers to wait until after they have conducted an interview or made a conditional offer of employment before asking about criminal history.

Many companies check candidates’ criminal records before they consider a hire. But since 13 states and many municipalities now have rules in place that prevents a criminal background check too early, it’s important that employers stay abreast of the rules.

Ensure You’re Doing Background Checks Properly

Criminal history background checks are an integral part of the hiring process and help protect companies and their employees. It’s essential, however, that employers ensure they’re following all the rules, including fair employment mandates.

With the services of a professional pre-employment background screening company like DataCheck, you can protect your workers and your business and avoid negligent hiring lawsuits while still complying with “ban the box” laws. 

Can an Active Warrant Keep You from Getting a Job?

If you have an outstanding warrant for a misdemeanor or felony, that means you could be arrested for the crime at any time. A warrant can complicate your life in countless ways. If you are searching for a job, it may or may not cause an employer to decide not to hire you.

How an Employer Might Look at an Outstanding Warrant

Many, but not all, employers conduct pre-employment background checks. If an employer conducts a thorough background check, a warrant will most likely come to light. Depending on the nature of the charged offense, the type of job you applied for, the company’s policy, and the supervisor’s discretion, you may or may not be hired.

For many employers, the type of crime you are charged with will be key to the decision on whether to offer you a job. If the job would require driving and you have an outstanding warrant for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, an employer would almost certainly not hire you. If a supervisor knew about the warrant and offered you the job, and then you caused an accident that damaged one or more vehicles or injured other people, the company could face a wrongful hiring lawsuit.

If you applied for a job working with vulnerable populations, such as children, senior citizens, or disabled individuals, and you have an outstanding warrant for assault or domestic violence, an employer most likely wouldn’t feel comfortable hiring you. The company’s or organization’s primary concern would be the safety of the people in their care. If you were hired and abused someone on the job, the employer could be sued.

If you have an outstanding warrant for a minor crime, such as petty theft, and the job you are seeking would not give you access to money or credit cards, an employer might be willing to give you a chance. A supervisor might take the view that you are innocent until proven guilty or might think that you would be unable to commit such a crime in the position you applied for and would not pose a risk to the company.

How to Handle a Warrant

If you have an active warrant out for your arrest, hire a lawyer and post bail if required. When you fill out a job application or go for an interview, answer all questions honestly. An employer may be willing to hire you with an outstanding warrant, but you will automatically be rejected for a job if you get caught in a lie.

Check Applicants’ Backgrounds

If you are an employer, you need to make informed decisions to protect the safety and interests of your business and customers. Depending on the nature of the alleged crime, a warrant may or may not be a reason not to hire a job applicant.

DataCheck can conduct thorough background checks to provide you with all the relevant facts you need to make hiring decisions with confidence. Contact us today to learn more.

Is Your Small Business Falling Behind in HR Compliance?

Staying compliant when it comes to business functions can be a giant undertaking – especially for small businesses with little resources – but it’s absolutely necessary. Being up to code with constantly changing industry standards and knowing the rules for everything from finances to hiring practices, is critical to operate successfully.

Small Business Compliance Issues

If you’re a small business, perhaps it’s been a while since you took a look at some of your HR functions and how they’re operating. Now’s a great time to ensure that you’re in compliance or risk hefty penalties.

One recent survey found that smaller businesses are lacking confidence when it comes to HR functions today in issues including overtime laws, youth standards and laws around employee classification.  Of all the core functions in the Human Resources role, survey respondents said they we’re least sure about the rules when it came to onboarding, handbooks and background checks.

Importance of Background Checks

Bringing on new employees involves a lot more than finding someone whose resume matches with a job opening. Employers today must find candidates who have the proper training and education, fit in with the company culture, and who meet requirements based on their backgrounds to remain compliant. The only way to be sure all of this is happening, and that all information provided is accurate before you onboard a candidate, is with background checks.

Depending on the industry, everything from criminal history, to drug tests may be needed. What’s most important is to work with a company that specializes in obtaining the pertinent information to assure your company will make the right decision. This can also protect the company and workplace from risks or other losses.

DataCheck offers employment screening as well as information, education, and training on “all things background checks.”  Our goal is to promote a safe workplace that both employers and employees benefit from. Contact us today to learn more.

New Legislation Could Affect School Bus Drivers


Earlier this year, federal legislation was introduced that would impact how school bus drivers are hired.

It all comes down to background checks. It’s called The Safety for the Schoolchildren Act. The legislation would instruct all states and school districts nationwide to obtain FBI background checks on all new job applicants, including potential school bus drivers.

The bill would also prohibit local education officials from hiring people for school bus driver positions who have been convicted of or plead guilty to drunk driving or a serious moving violation. The proposal also covers any new school job applicant who has been convicted of sexual assault against a minor.

The law would also add an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It would also cover teachers, substitute teachers administrators, cafeteria workers, custodians or any contract employees that work in a school district.

The National School Transportation Specifications & Procedural Manual will recommend school districts check both state and national criminal identification agencies for record of any criminal activities among school job applicants. School districts will also be encouraged to check the driving records of school job applicants.

This is just another reminder of the importance and wide-ranging impact of proper background checks.