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 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 include retaliation protections in San Francisco Paid Parental Leave Ordinance, retaliation protections in various municipal minimum wage ordinances, and amendments to laws governing the use of tobacco products in the workplace, all effective January 1, 2017.
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.
Updated to reflect anti-retaliation requirements under Montgomery County's Earned Sick and Safe Leave law, effective October 1, 2016.
Updated to include detailed information on the forthcoming state Act to Establish Pay Equity, which strengthens existing equal pay laws.
HR guidance on the legal risks of substance abuse.