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New York City Council Votes to Ban Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing

A precedent-setting city law banning pre-employment drug screening for marijuana was passed by the New York City Council on April  9, 2019.

The legislation, Prohibition of drug testing for pre-employment hiring procedures, has been sent to Mayor Bill de Blasio for his expected signature. Once the law is enacted, employers who are hiring prospective employees to work in New York City will have one year to modify their testing policies before it goes into effect.

The bill prohibits private and public employers, labor organizations, employment agencies and their agents from requiring a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, as a condition of employment in the city. Exceptions are provided for safety- and security-sensitive jobs, and those tied to a federal or state contract or grant.

Under the Compassionate Care Act, medical marijuana is legal in New York State for patients who are certified by medical practitioners as having serious conditions. The state has not legalized recreational use of marijuana.

Exceptions

Exceptions under the law include the following:

  • Police officers, peace officers and other jobs with law enforcement or investigative functions
  • Any position requiring a commercial driver’s license
  • Any position requiring supervision/care of children, medical patients or vulnerable persons as defined in Social Services Law Section 488(15)
  • Positions requiring compliance with Section 3321 of the New York City Building Code or Section 220-h of Labor Law relative to certain types of construction and maintenance jobs
  • Any position with the potential to significantly impact the health or safety of employees or members of the public, as determined by the commissioner of administrative services for classified city employees

The law also does not apply to:

  • U.S. Department of Transportation regulations that require pre-employment drug testing, as well as any state or city regulations that adopt DOT rules
  • Any contract entered into between the federal government and an employer or any grant of financial assistance from the federal government to an employer that requires drug testing of prospective employees as a condition of receiving the contract or grant.
  • Federal or state statutes, regulations or orders that require drug testing of prospective employees for purposes of safety or security
  • Any applicants whose prospective employer is a party to a valid collective bargaining agreement that specifically addresses the pre-employment drug testing of such applicants

When the law is enacted, the City Commission on Human Rights will be directed to promulgate rules for implementation. Violations will be considered a discriminatory employment practice.