Editor's Note: Understand employer obligations to establish a drug-free workplace.
Overview: The federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires that employers with certain government contracts or receiving federal grants provide and maintain a drug-free workplace.
As part of this, employees must be provided with a policy statement describing the drug-free workplace program, outlining prohibited substances and detailing the consequences for using such substances.
There may be different requirements depending on if the contractor or grantee is an individual or an organization. Similarly many states and municipalities also have Drug-Free Workplace Acts in place.
It is best practice for employers to develop a drug-free workplace policy and publish the policy in the employee handbook. Employees should be required to acknowledge that they consent to and understand the policy.
Further, employers should make sure that their drug-free workplace policy and program complies with applicable state and federal laws.
Lastly, the policy should be applied in a uniform manner and should not discriminate against employees.
Trends: Employers should be aware that the issue of legalization of marijuana for medical purposes in a handful of states has caused employers in these states some difficulty in maintaining a drug-free workplace.
Employers are dealing with the issue of how to balance an individual's right to use marijuana for medical reasons with how to enforce a drug-free workplace policy and program.
It is also impacting an employer's right to drug test both employees and applicants as well as whether it is permissible for employers to engage in preemplyoment inquiries regarding drug use and whether employers must accommodate medical marijuana that employees use after working hours and outside of the workplace.
Further, employers should be aware that the US Department of Transportation recently issued new guidelines prohibiting the use of medical marijuana for transportation workers in positions where safety is a primary concern.
Author: Beth P. Zoller, JD, Legal Editor
Maryland has become the 21st state to pass a law legalizing medical marijuana with a measure signed by Governor Martin O'Malley that becomes effective on June 1. Several Maryland sections of the Employment Law Manual have been updated to reflect this development along with the Medical Marijuana Quick Reference Chart.
Maryland has become the 21st state to legalize medical marijuana with a bill signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley. Effective June 1, the new law allows individuals with certain qualifying illnesses or conditions to use marijuana for medicinal purposes if their doctor recommends it.
The Florida Supreme Court has held that the state's voters should be allowed to decide in November whether to amend the state's constitution to legalize medical marijuana. The measure must receive at least 60 percent of the vote in order to pass. If it does, Florida would become the first southern state to legalize medical marijuana use.
As mandated by the West Virginia Division of Personnel, state government agencies must post the West Virginia Drug- and Alcohol-Free Workplace Policy Poster.
As mandated by the West Virginia Division of Personnel, state government agencies must post the West Virginia Drug-Free Workplace Poster.
XpertHR's Financial Services Resource Center for HR helps financial services employers handle their most challenging employment issues by bringing relevant resources together in one place for easy access.
XpertHR's Maryland content has been updated in the Employee Privacy, Employee Handbooks - Work Rules - Employee Conduct, and Preemployment Screening and Testing sections to include a new law permitting the use of medical marijuana in the state, effective October 1.
A new Maryland law effective on October 1 that permits the use of marijuana for medical purposes may have an impact on workplace policies regarding employee drug use and testing.
The Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that even though medical marijuana use is legal in the state, employers may still terminate employees who fail a drug test due to off-duty use of medicinal marijuana. See Coats v. Dish Network, LLC, 2013 COA 62 (2013).
HR guidance on developing a drug-free workplace policy and program that complies with state and federal law.