Drug laws can be complicated, especially with medical marijuana and recreational marijuana in the mix. While you would not think of coming to work drunk, even though alcohol use is legal, many people seem to think that showing up to work impaired by marijuana is acceptable.
When it comes to marijuana, what is considered impaired? A blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 is considered drunk, but there is nothing similar to check for drug impairment. Plus, drugs can stay in the body much longer than alcohol. Therefore, the presence of drugs does not equal intoxication.
Can an employer test employees for drugs? Can a person who uses medical marijuana at work lose their job? Here are some things employers and employees need to understand about marijuana use, in and out of the workplace, in New York.
Marijuana in New York
Marijuana is currently not legal for recreational use in New York. The state, however, does have a Medical Marijuana Program, which was legalized in 2014. This program allows those with serious medical conditions to use marijuana products, if they are certified by a licensed physician. In regards to medical marijuana in the workplace, the Medical Marijuana Program does not require an employer to violate federal law or cause it to lose federal funding.
New York employees have the right to consume alcohol and smoke cigarettes outside of work. However, when it comes to drug use, employers have the upper hand. They can perform regular drug testing of employees and even discipline employees for using drugs outside of the workplace. Even those who use medical marijuana do not have the right to smoke marijuana at work or even be impaired at work.
Employers have the right to perform drug testing at any time, as long as it does not violate any discrimination laws. For example, a worker with a medical condition may take prescription drugs. If these drugs show up in a test, the employee can not be punished. A person also cannot be tested solely because of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, or age. If a drug test invades one’s privacy—such as forcing a person to disrobe in front of others—it would be considered illegal. If an employee is part of a union, the employer generally must negotiate with the union in order to perform drug testing.
Contact a New York Employment Law Attorney
Laws regarding marijuana use in the workplace can be confusing, especially since marijuana is, for the most part, decriminalized. Even in states where recreational use is illegal, medical marijuana may be legal. However, the fact remains that marijuana is illegal at the federal level.
So, what happens if you fail a drug test? Can you lose your job? If you are facing job loss or other punishment for marijuana use in the workplace, the experienced New York employment law attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. can help. We will assess your case and help you understand your legal rights. To schedule a consultation, call our office at (347) 464-8694.