State & Local Employment Law Developments: Q3 2020

State and local governments are increasingly regulating the workplace. Although it is not possible to discuss all state and local laws, this update provides an overview of recent and upcoming legislative developments to help you and your organization stay in compliance. (Please note that developments specifically related to COVID-19 are not included.) This quarter, state and local legislatures were particularly active in passing laws addressing employee classification, sexual harassment training, lactation accommodation, criminal background inquiries and a variety of unpaid and paid leaves.

For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.

State & Local Employment Law Developments: Q1/Q2 2020

State and local governments are increasingly regulating the workplace. In the first and second quarters of 2020 alone, legislatures were particularly active in passing laws addressing sexual harassment training, discrimination including hair discrimination, criminal background inquiries, salary history, and a variety of unpaid and paid leaves. Although it is not possible to discuss all state and local laws, this update provides an overview of recent and upcoming legislative developments to help you and your organization stay in compliance. (Please note that developments specifically related to COVID-19 are not included in this update.)

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New Jersey Expands Employment Protections to Medical Marijuana Users

New Jersey recently joined a growing number of states, including Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma and Rhode Island, that afford certain job protections to employees and applicants who use medical marijuana.

On July 2, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act into law, which significantly amended and expanded the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, N.J.S.A. 24:61-2 et seq.

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Marijuana in the Golden State: California Lawmakers Seek to Protect Medical-Marijuana Users in the Workplace

Although California legalized medical marijuana use in 1996 and recreational use in 2016, California employers have always been free to maintain zero-tolerance policies against all users. That could change soon as a result of Assembly Bill 2069 (“AB 2069”), which would amend the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to create a new class of protected persons: medical marijuana cardholders.

Continue reading “Marijuana in the Golden State: California Lawmakers Seek to Protect Medical-Marijuana Users in the Workplace”

Cheryl Orr and Sarah Millar Quoted in InsideCounsel Labor & Employment Digest: April 2014

Cheryl Orr, partner and co-chair of the Labor & Employment group, and Sarah Millar, partner and vice chair of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation group, were both quoted in InsideCounsel’s April 2014 Labor & Employment Digest.  The monthly digest “brings together the voices of labor & employment and employee benefits lawyers to get their take on the issues shaping the policies of workplace compliance and regulation.”  Sarah’s quote looked at how employers can avoid the challenges presented by tobacco cessation programs and Cheryl’s looked at how the anti-drug policies of companies located in states where marijuana is now legal for medical or recreational use are affected.  Both quotes are below in their entirety.

Avoid the challenges of tobacco cessation programs

“Tobacco cessation programs structured outside a health plan can be problematic.  Some state laws prevent employers from making hiring and firing decisions based on someone’s smoking status.  It puts employers between a rock and a hard place.  The law is complicated and ties your hands in some respect, but there are options and creative ways to incentivize healthy behavior.  It’s a matter of walking through the steps and thinking it through, then coming up with an effective communication plan.”

Marijuana legalization and anti-drug policies

“Companies located in one or more of the 21 states that allow the use of medical marijuana need to understand the laws may affect a company’s anti-drug policy.  For employers that have federal contracts or are otherwise subject to federal regulations concerning drug-free workplaces, your practices do not need to change.  Otherwise, employers should expect more challenges from staff that fail drug tests but claim they weren’t impaired while working.  Training programs for managers will help them recognize signs of impairment and answer inquiries regarding the use of medical marijuana.”

Cheryl Orr Quoted on Illinois Medical Marijuana Law Story in Chicago Tribune

San Francisco Partner Cheryl Orr was quoted in a recent story in the Chicago Tribune on Illinois medical marijuana law and the legal implications for Illinois employers whose policies are at odds with the law.  Some of the issues Illinois employers will need to confront include reconciling their drug-free work place policies with patients’ rights, what they can ask job applicants, how to deal with an impaired employee and whether or not an employer can punish an employee for engaging in what is now deemed to be a legal activity.

Cheryl submitted that the Illinois statute may offer civil employment protections for workers.  One provision of the Illinois law appears to narrowly tie the ability to discipline a medical marijuana patient for failing a drug test to those employers who are specifically connected to federal work or funding.  This framework, Cheryl wrote, “creates a plausible argument that the statute does provide protections” for medical marijuana users in the private sector.

LaborSphere previously looked at employer liability under the Illinois law, and other states who have laws providing for some form of legalized medical marijuana, and will continue to follow this ever evolving area of law.