Legal Expert Explains Latest Changes As New York Eliminates Recreational Cannabis In The Workplace

Legal Expert Explains Latest Changes As New York Eliminates Recreational Cannabis In The Workplace.

ALBANY, NY – As New York’s recreational marijuana laws continue to take shape, employers must get used to saving their assumptions about when and if their employees choose to smoke.

“For example, the smell of marijuana persists, but that is no longer a probable cause,” explains Christine Taylor, a partner at the Towne Law Firm. “It was a knee-jerk reaction to say, you’re obviously using, I don’t want to hire you anymore, and that can get you in trouble now.”

Taylor hosts educational seminars where she advises employers on how to proceed in such a changing environment. The latest update of the New York State Department of Labor Strongly Prohibits Employers from Testing for Marijuana either when hiring or under suspicion that an employee is incapacitated.

“Marijuana stays in your system for so long, but now, for example, some people had a policy that if someone was injured on the job, they had to immediately undergo a drug test and if they had flagged for marijuana, they would fire you right away. You can’t do that anymore, because just testing positive for marijuana in your system is no longer good enough,” he explains to NEWS10 ABC’s Mikhaela Singleton.

In addition, it explains that such speedy trials could lead to an employer in trouble in certain discrimination cases.

“Perhaps some of the symptoms of disability could overlap with some of the symptoms of some disabilities and you should be careful about that,” she says.

“In addition, because the law guarantees the elimination [select marijuana convictions] and not just sealed records, as a person applying for a job you no longer need to report it because it did not exist, for all intents and purposes. As an employer, just as you would not discriminate against people for anything else, you also need to take that into account in general. Are you still a good employee? “Taylor explains it in more detail.

However, that is not to say that safety standards are out of the window. Taylor advises employers to document everything.

“You have to have articulable symptoms, is what the law says, so that means you have to be really handicapped in such a way that you can no longer perform the tasks of your job,” says Taylor. “The best thing to do is to make a report and have witnesses that that person is unable to do his or her job, either according to the standards that you set, in a way that does not meet the requirements of the position or endangers to other people. ”

“This is how you are a good employer and meet these standards, make your expectations clear. If they are unable to meet their safety standards or their work standards, it doesn’t necessarily matter if it was an impediment through weed or alcohol or anything else, ”he continues to explain.

And while refraining from using marijuana may not be a condition of employment, there may still be rules surrounding what happens on job property.

“There are no ‘weed-free offices’, so to speak. You cannot restrict what people do in their personal time. Their breaks and all of that are still considered work time, so to speak, so yeah, you can say no, you can’t bring marijuana into this office, for example, ”he says.

It also adds that there are caveats to new laws that allow recreational marijuana, for example in the case of federal jobs like the post office or contractors like GE.

“Because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, you can still test in those cases or set additional restrictions,” explains Taylor.

The best advice is to become an informed employer and employee.