Overview: Substance abuse in the workplace may lead to an increase in avoidable on-the-job accidents, decreased productivity and potential negligent retention/supervision court claims. However, employers need to understand their legal rights and responsibilities under federal, state and local law with respect to employee drug testing and discipline.
Employers must ensure that their employee discipline policies and procedures allow for flexibility in addressing substance abuse problems in the workplace. Although an employer may choose to terminate an employee who has been found to possess illegal drugs on business premises, the option to provide the employee with a firm choice or last chance agreement in lieu of termination (requiring that the employee seek rehabilitative services) may prove a more appropriate response.
Trends: Case and criminal law continues to evolve in states with marijuana protections. Although most laws do not protect employees who are under the influence of marijuana while on-duty, employers continue to grapple with the optimal method to address marijuana use, whether on- or off-duty.
Author: Marta Moakley, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect retaliation protections under the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring Ordinance, effective January 22, 2017; enhanced to improve comprehensiveness with the addition of retaliation protections in Los Altos, Malibu and Santa Clara.
A resource that guides employers on how to discipline misconduct related to marijuana use has been added. Contradictory laws across federal and state jurisdictions have complicated these types of employment decisions.
This resource guides employers on how to discipline misconduct related to marijuana use to address compliance concerns in jurisdictions that allow medical or recreational marijuana use.
Updated to reflect amendments to the state concealed carry law, effective January 1, 2017.
Updated to incorporate the medical marijuana law, effective January 3, 2017.
Updated to reflect discipline concerns regarding a forthcoming law that addresses weapons in the workplace.
Updated to reflect retaliation protections under the forthcoming state paid sick leave law.
On Election Day, states went high: voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Maine's results are still listed as "too close to call," but those voting "yes" are in the lead.
Updated to reflect the passage of the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016.
HR guidance on the legal risks of substance abuse.