Washington, DC has taken steps to protect employees based on off-duty recreational or medicinal marijuana use. On June 7, the City Council passed a bill that would prohibit employers from firing, refusing to hire or taking other adverse personnel actions against an individual for lawful, off-duty use of marijuana, unless certain exceptions apply (e.g., acting under federal guidelines or safety sensitive positions).
The law allows employers to prohibit the use of cannabis while working or in the workplace. In addition, the law prohibits the “possession, storage, delivery, transfer, display, transportation, sale, purchase, or growing of cannabis at the employee’s place of employment.”
Next Steps for Employers
The bill awaits approval by Mayor Muriel Bowser, and if she signs it, the bill will become law after a 60-day congressional review and the bill’s publication in the District of Columbia Register. If the bill passes, employers have 60 days to notify their employees of their new rights under the legislation and whether they are designated as safety-sensitive employees. Thereafter, employers must provide that same notice upon hire and annually for each employee.
Furthermore, employers should carefully consider how the new law affects their existing drug testing procedures, hiring processes, and disciplinary processes, and review existing policies to ensure compliance. Employers that engage in drug testing should ensure that reasonable suspicion training is provided to supervisors/managers and/or human resources to ensure compliance.