Nevada recently became the first state to ban employers from rejecting job applicants based on the discovery of marijuana during pre-employment drug test screenings.
Two years ago, Nevada passed laws which rendered the sale of marijuana legal, both medically and recreationally. On the federal level, however, marijuana is still considered an illegal substance.
According to the new law which will go into effect January 1st, 2020, an employer will no longer be able to base a hiring decision on the finding of marijuana during a drug screening test. Additionally, workers who are tested for drugs within the first month of their employment and are found to have marijuana in their system will be able to challenge those results by taking a second test.
In April of this year, New York City became the first city to enact such a law on the local level, banning employers from screening applicants by testing for marijuana. The state of Maine also has laws in place which prohibit the discrimination of job applicants based on drug use but does not have laws specific to the use of pre-employment drug testing in determining an applicant's eligibility to work.
Nevada's new law, known as Assembly Bill No. 132 or AB132 for short, includes exemptions for safety-related professionals such as firefighters or medical workers as well as other employees of similar positions where the health or safety of another human being is a matter of concern, although the bill fails to elaborate specifically which safety-related occupations will be exempt. Keeping in line with federal law, Nevada will also exempt anyone who operates a motor vehicle as part of their occupation, as well as anyone working on a federal grant.
In preparation for the law's enactment next year, businesses in Nevada should review their company policies concerning their prehire screening process. Another important point for employers to consider is whether they have any positions within their company where safety is a concern thus making those employees exempt. Nevada's government is expected to iron out the finer details of the law in the coming months to define exactly what safety-related occupations will be included.
This law does not prohibit employers from maintaining a drug-free workplace, it only restricts them from using marijuana tests in the determination of an applicants' eligibility for hire.