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.

A Closer Look at “Ban the Box” Rules

Many businesses haven’t changed their hiring procedures much in recent years. “If it works, why mess with it?” is an oft-heard refrain. While there is a convenience in doing the old-fashioned way, new rules have come into play that may limit how companies can conduct background checks on prospective employees.

What is “Ban the Box?”

As of 2019, 35 states, the District of Columbia and over 150 cities and counties have adopted what’s called “ban the box” rules that ensure employers must consider a job candidate’s qualifications first before they can consider the candidate’s conviction or arrest record. The goal is to help people who may have criminal convictions in their past gain employment by giving them a fair chance for a job. In practice, “Ban the Box” removes the conviction history question from job applications and delays background checks until later in the hiring process.

While many of the rules are broad and in some cases apply only to federal employees or contractors, 12 states—California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—have also required the removal of conviction history questions from job applications for private employers. Aside from the most local of companies who do business entirely outside of these states, this means the rules could affect a majority of companies doing business in the U.S. In fact, if you add up the population of the states and localities that have adopted “Ban the Box” policies, there are now over 258 million people in the U.S. —which represents more than three-quarters of the U.S. population— who live in a jurisdiction with some form of fair-chance hiring policy.

Updated Hiring Policies

In addition to “Ban the Box,” most of these states and municipalities are adopting the best practices created in the 2012 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on using arrest and conviction records in employment decisions, which can further complicate the rules of recruiting and hiring.

For this reason, if your hiring procedures haven’t been updated recently, you could be in violation of the law. Hiring is a complex process today, particularly for organizations that hire across state or county lines. To ensure you’re not violating the rights of prospective employees, it’s a good idea to rely on background checks by a professional agency.

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.

Get Professional Help

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. Contact DataCheck at 949-339-2305 or visit our website.

Background Checking Employment Candidates for a Safer Workplace

It’s the job of every employer to keep their workers safe. It’s not only a responsibility toward workers, but it’s also about reducing liability, keeping productivity high and turnover low.

While no one can see into the future to predict how effective a candidate will be as an employee, background checks can go a long way toward ensuring that employers are doing their best to keep their workplaces safe.

Substance Abuse Checks

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 15 percent of Americans are living with a substance abuse problem. This statistic is alarming for several reasons. For employers, it means that it’s more challenging than ever to keep a drug-free workplace. Many employers perceive the problem is worsening with the advent of legal marijuana in many states.

Drug use by employees or in the workplace can lead to an unsafe environment, a less productive environment and more employee absenteeism and turnover. You have a responsibility to keep all your employees safe, so it’s in your organization’s best interest to hire drug-free candidates.

Criminal Background Checks

When you’re making hiring decisions, it’s critical you have all the information relevant to the position you’re trying to fill. Quality background screening can identify criminal histories that applicants may not be revealing. These screenings help companies to hire the right candidates for their organization and ensure that the candidate won’t put other employees or the company’s assets in jeopardy.

Consider Drug Testing and Background Checks for a Safer Workplace

Drug testing has shown to improve workplace safety and productivity and reduce employer liability. Criminal background checks yield similar results, helping companies ensure that new employees haven’t been convicted of crimes that may be relevant to their job description.

Be Sure to Stay within the Law

Job candidates do have rights, and they may vary from state to state. When you conduct background and drug tests, ensure they’re properly structured and that you’re staying within the boundaries of both federal law and any laws your state may have to prevent you from using certain data against candidates. A professional background check organization can help you with this.

Seek Professional Services

DataCheck, a provider of pre-employment background checks, drug tests and screening services, offers a comprehensive search of the major social media platforms to gain insight into a candidate’s online behavior and appropriateness based on your company’s basic code of conduct and values. The service can help uncover evidence of criminal behavior, unprofessional conduct or lies, and misrepresentation about experience and education. The goal is to prevent the hiring of candidates who aren’t a good fit or who could even be a danger to the company’s existing employees and reputation.

Contact us for more information on the ways DataCheck can help with screening candidates via social media and other means