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New York City Becomes the First Municipality in the Country to Ban Marijuana Testing of Job Applicants

MarijuanaNew York City Becomes the First Municipality in the Country to Ban Marijuana Testing of Job Applicants

On May 10, 2019, the New York City Council’s bill prohibiting employers from drug testing prospective employees for marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols (“THC,” the active ingredient in marijuana) was passed into law. The law, 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.

Under the law, employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, and their agents are prohibited from requiring a prospective employee to submit to a marijuana or THC drug test as a condition of employment. However, while many people will soon no longer have to face this barrier for future employment opportunities, the numerous exceptions demonstrate that the New York City Council acknowledges the importance of pre-employment marijuana testing for certain safety-sensitive positions, including:

  • law enforcement positions, such as police officers and peace officers;
  • mechanics, contractors, or laborers at public work sites;
  • positions that require a commercial driver’s license;
  • positions that require the supervision or care of children, medical patients, or other vulnerable persons;
  • positions that could significantly impact the health or security of employees or members of the public; or
  • positions for employers required to drug test pursuant to federal law or pursuant to government contract.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights is expected to issue further rules regarding the law’s implementation. The law will take effect on May 10, 2020, giving New York City employers one year to prepare.

New Law Applies to "Prospective" Employees

Note that the new law will apply only to “prospective” employees. Therefore, employer drug-testing programs in New York City that test current employees for marijuana will remain lawful. The law also does not prevent employers for screening job applicants for unlawful drugs other than marijuana or THC. For more information about marijuana in the workplace, click here.

The private use of marijuana is just one act that may result in unlawful discrimination by potential employers. Other common discriminatory questions and tips about how to handle such interview topics can be found here. If you feel that have been discriminated against during the job application process, you might have a right to take legal action. Please contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. today for a consultation.

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