New amendments to Connecticut's recreational marijuana law, which are effective July 1st, have the potential to impact employers and hiring practices across the state.
Under the amendments to the recreational marijuana statute, Senate Bill No. 1201, many employers will be prohibited from disciplining their employees or denying employment to potential employees on the basis of their recreational marijuana use. This bar against discipline encompasses changes to an employee's compensation, terms, conditions, and other privileges of employment.
The ability to use drug tests on prospective or current employees has also changed as of July 1st: under the new law, a positive test alone cannot be the sole basis for denying employment or terminating employment.
There are several exceptions for employers: first, an employer can decline to hire or take action if doing so would place the employer in violation of a federal contract or risk the employer's federal funding, as the use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
An employer can also continue to terminate employment if they “reasonably suspect” that an employee is using cannabis or if the symptoms of marijuana use appear to “decrease or lessen” the employee's job performance.
Importantly, an employer can also continue to maintain a drug free workplace and can continue to prohibit employees from using recreational marijuana while at work. Despite the law, employers can enact and enforce policies that restrict off-duty recreational marijuana use, provided the police is “in writing” and made available to employees before its enforcement. Employers should also present or disclose the existence of the policy when making an offer of employment to new employees.
There is also a category of exempted employers who are not bound by the new law. Employers whose services focus on mining, construction, transportation or delivery, educational services, health care or social services, justice, public order, and safety services, and national security and international affairs are exempted. Under the new law, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and police officers are similarly exempted.
Employees who require commercial driver's licenses to perform their jobs are also exempted, as are any employees with “the potential to adversely impact the health or safety of employees or members of the public.” The new law leaves it to the employer to determine those additional positions that have “potential” to adversely impact other employees and members of the public.
The new law does not change existing compliance requirements for Connecticut employers with lawful medicinal marijuana usage by employees.
The experienced counsel at Rose Kallor, LLP can provide guidance to employers in navigating the new statutes and making determinations about their employment policies and practices. Rose Kallor attorneys can be reached at 860.361.7999.
About Rose Kallor:
Rose Kallor, LLP is a labor and employment law firm with offices in Hartford, Connecticut and New York, New York. Rose Kallor concentrates its practice in the representation of public and private-sector employers, individuals, and municipalities in the New England and New York Metropolitan area. Committed to high-quality, professional representation, the attorneys at Rose Kallor stand ready to provide legal counsel on all aspects of employment and labor law. For more about Rose Kallor, visit our website at https://www.rosekallor.com/.