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 clarify the forthcoming effective date for the retaliation provisions of the state paid family and medical leave law.
Updated to reflect forthcoming law restricting microchip implantation.
Updated to reflect the forthcoming Emergency Services Volunteer Employment Protection Act.
Updated to include forthcoming amendments regarding electronic cigarettes.
Updated to reflect discipline-related provisions of the state Paid Medical Leave Act, effective March 29, 2019.
Updated to reflect the forthcoming Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act.
Updated to reflect retaliation protections under the state temporary disability benefits law, effective February 19, 2019.
Updated to include information on a case involving the medical marijuana law.
HR guidance on the legal risks of substance abuse.