The New York City Council passed a bill last month that would prohibit employers in the city from testing job applicants for Marijuana (THC) as a condition for employment.  The bill introduced as No. 1445 passed by a 41 to 4 vote moves to reduce consequences for legal marijuana use, since the city in March urged the state to legalize recreational marijuana.  This new law would tie into the city’s Fair Chance Act passed in 2015 which prohibits employers from asking or inquiring about previous criminal activity until a conditional job offer has been extended.

One proponent of the bill Public Advocate Jamaane Williams who in his capacity as a citywide elected officer who oversees the council said “And as we move toward legalization, it makes absolutely no sense that we’re keeping people from finding jobs or advancing their careers because of marijuana use.”

There are exceptions for safety and security sensitive positions, as well as employment dealing with the state and federal government.

The specifics of bill No. 1445-A are:

The law would amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to prohibition of drug testing for pre-employment hiring practices.

  • 2. Section 8-107 of title 8 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new subdivision 31 to read as follows:
  • 31. Employment; pre-employment drug testing policy. (a) Prohibition. Except as otherwise provided by law, it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.

The exceptions to the law in detail are:

  • (1) The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to persons applying to work:
  • (A) As police officers or peace officers, as those terms are defined in subdivisions 33 and 34 of section 1.20 of the criminal procedure law, respectively, or in a position with a lawenforcement or investigative function at the department of investigation;
  • (B) In any position requiring compliance with section 3321 of the New York city building code or section 220-h of the labor law;
  • (C) In any position requiring a commercial driver’s license;
  • (D) In any position requiring the supervision or care of children, medical patients or vulnerable persons as defined in paragraph 15 of section 488 of the social services law; or
  • (E) In any position with the potential to significantly impact the health or safety of employees or members of the public, as determined by: (i) the commissioner of citywide administrative services for the classified service of the city of New York, and identified on the website of the department of citywide administrative services or (ii) the chairperson, and identified in regulations promulgated by the commission. 

Pending signature from Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Bill will take effect one year after being signed.

What can Employers Do?

The first course of action is to determine if you hire or operate in the city of New York, if this is the case then you would need to revise your current pre-employment drug screening policy to reflect this new law.  Next, for your non-safety sensitive positions (or any exceptions) remove the marijuana (THC, Cannabinoids) drug from the screening panel (You may still test for other illicit drugs like; Meth, Heroin, and Cocaine).

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