NYC Council Passes Ban on Pre-Employment Drug Testing for Marijuana, THC

Public attitudes toward marijuana use have shifted significantly in recent years. According to surveys performed by the Pew Research Center, roughly six in 10 Americans now believe marijuana use should be legal. At the very least, people no longer stigmatize the use of such drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Public Advocate Touts Legislation as “Creating More Access Points for Employment”

No doubt due to this shift in public opinion, the New York City Council recently adopted new employment laws designed to bar most employers from screening potential job applicants based on their marijuana usage. Int 1445-2019, introduced by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and a group of city councilors back in February, amends the New York City Administrative Code regarding unlawful discriminatory practices. Specifically, it declares that subject to certain exceptions, an employer, labor organization, or employment agency may not “require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence” of marijuana or its active ingredient, known as THC.

Williams told Bloomberg News the legislation would ensure New Yorkers would not be prevented from finding a job based solely on past marijuana usage. “We need to be creating more access points for employment, not less,” he said.

However, as noted above, Int 1445-2019 does contain several exceptions to the “no marijuana testing” rule, including the following professions:

● Police officers, investigators, and law enforcement;

● Anyone working in the construction trades, i.e., anyone who works at a construction site regulated by state law;

● Any position that requires the applicant to hold a commercial driver's license, or anyone whose job requires drug testing under the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations;

● Any position that requires supervising children, medical patients, or anyone considered a “vulnerable person” under New York City law;

● Any other position that the City determines has the “potential to significantly impact the health or safety of employees or members of the public”;

● Any job for an employer who is required to conduct drug testing as a condition of a federal contract or grant of assistance; or

● Any job for which drug testing is required as a condition of a collective bargaining agreement that specifically addresses the subject.

With these caveats, Int 1445-2019 would still cover a larger number of private employers in New York City. However, the ban on marijuana testing would not take effect right away. Assuming it is signed by Mayor Bill De Blasio, the legislation would take effect “one year after it becomes law.”

Speak with a New York City Employment Discrimination Lawyer Today

New York City already prohibits employers from making inquiries about a job applicant's criminal record prior to extending a conditional job offer. So, it is already against the law for an employer to ask an applicant upfront if he or she has ever been convicted of a crime related to marijuana possession. Int 1445-2019 would simply extend the applicant's protections to include pre-employment drug testing.

If you have been denied a job due to your criminal record and would like to speak with an experienced New York City employment attorney about your options, contact the Nisar Law Group, P.C., today to schedule a consultation.