Illegal substance use in the workplace can lead to absenteeism, lower productivity, and even accidents and theft. Therefore, most companies attempt to protect themselves and their workers through some type of drug testing program.
With the legalization of medical marijuana in 30 states and recreational marijuana in nine states, businesses may be confused about their testing rights. (Business Insider, 2018) Below is a brief overview of the drug screening laws in Buffalo, NY.
According to Federal Law
The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 prompted mandatory drug testing for many federal employees. Otherwise, federal law has few limits. Most regulations are at the state or local level. To date, challenges claiming drug testing policies are an invasion of privacy have not been successful.
According to New York State Law
New York State has no legislation restricting or regulating an employer’s right to require drug testing when conducting pre-employment background screening. A few exceptions do exist. For example, those working in a school system and public transportation must complete an annual drug test to keep their license valid.
Pre-Employment Drug Testing
Private corporations and businesses may require general pre-employment drug screening based solely on their desire for a drug-free workplace. Nevertheless, New York courts may consider rejecting a potential employee based only on a positive result as a potentially discriminatory act. The employer must be able to show how substance abuse will directly interfere with the applicant’s ability to do the job.
Drug Testing During Employment
With the absence of specific state employment drug testing laws, New York companies may conduct random screening of their employees with or without suspicion of misuse. As a matter of good faith, most organizations communicate drug testing policies to all workers along with documentation. Testing positive or failing to cooperative with screening processes both may be grounds for termination, but employees have some rights. A reputable laboratory must complete screening, and workers may request retests.
New York’s Compassionate Care Act removes state-level criminal penalties for patients who use marijuana to manage symptoms caused by medical conditions. Those who qualify must have written documentation from a certified medical doctor. The bill, however, contains no provisions concerning workplace policies. Although the use of controlled drugs prescribed by a medical doctor is legal, organizations technically can fire an employee for using medical marijuana.
Policies Concerning Those Recovering from Addiction
New York regards alcoholism and drug abuse as diseases. As a result, the law protects those who are recovering. Companies must make reasonable accommodations, including adjusting work schedules, to accommodate treatments. Regulations encourage employers who are aware of an addicted worker to offer a leave of absence and to require attendance at a rehabilitation program. Disciplinary action and/or termination are acceptable if an employee refuses this proposal.
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