Don’t Assume that as an employer you must accommodate employees who smoke Marijuana. You have an absolute right at any time in any state to maintain a safe workplace for employees and to assure that clients and the public are safe from your employees.
Employees’ or applicants’ use of marijuana may raise safety concerns and motivate employers to re-examine drug- and alcohol-testing policies.
New laws do not change your right as an employer to maintain a safe workplace and to protect clients and members of the public from your employee who may be under the influence of marijuana. Employers can still enforce the zero-tolerance policies and other drug-testing policies they have now. Nor does the law allow individuals to drive while impaired by or under the influence of marijuana, or excuse them from criminal penalties if they do so. So, if you have employees driving for you, as an employer, you have an absolute right to assure they are not under the influence. And, this doesn’t just mean if they are making deliveries for you. If they are on the road for any reason while in your employ, you, as an employer are liable.
Remember that under the Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause, employers must maintain safe workplaces.
Employers simply do not have to condone illegal drug use, possession or influence at their workplace.
Employees may be confused as to whether their use of marijuana in accordance with these state initiatives is acceptable to their employer, and employers should be prepared to answer questions from employees and applicants.
Employers should consider the following issues in reviewing existing substance abuse policies:
- If your company is a direct recipient of federal funds and has occupations that are safety-sensitive, your company is required to follow the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, which requires federal contractors and federal grantees to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a precondition of receiving a contract or grant from a federal agency.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act does not require employers to accommodate the use of marijuana to mitigate the effects of a disability.
- Communicate to your employees about your expectations concerning your substance abuse policies.
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