Weed and Work

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nevada’s most recently reported unemployment rate is roughly five percent. Many employers are scrambling to find qualified employees as the economy is hitting its stride in recovery. Compounding this struggle are employers who conduct drug tests as a condition of hiring. Since legal marijuana became available in Nevada on July 1, 2017, many prospective employees are reluctant to submit to drug screening. The crunch of skilled employees with this unwillingness has made hiring much more challenging.

The Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association states that drug testing, “can identify evidence of recent use of alcohol, prescription drugs and illicit drugs. Currently, drug testing does not test for impairment or whether a person’s behavior is, or was, impacted by drugs.”

Generally, unless there are particular regulations (typically federal) to a particular industry, there is no legal requirement for an employer to pre-screen its employees. However, many employers have engaged in pre-employment testing to discourage its employees from indulging in intoxicants or to bolster a “zero tolerance” policy.

In response to the challenges of hiring a skilled workforce, Caesars Entertainment Corp. no longer screen job candidates for marijuana use as a condition of employment. What makes this move particularly interesting is that Caesars, as a gaming licensee has additional limitations concerning marijuana than other industries.

In order to hire the best candidates, how should your business address this growing trend?  Gordon Law recommends that you have a clear policy in your employee handbook or manual. If you choose to continue to pre-screen, then you should pre-screen all employees or all classes of employees (i.e. all drivers or those operating machinery). Under any circumstance, you should have a policy that reserves the right to test if you have reasonable suspicion that an employee is impaired while working. Also, workers’ compensation policies, as well as OSHA regulations, will require drug screening in the event of an accident or injury at work.

One of the keys to successful recruiting and retention of employees is a well-crafted and well-implemented employee handbook. Gordon Law can assist you with drafting or reviewing a handbook that addresses marijuana use as well as all other policies to ensure that you are compliant with Nevada and Federal law.

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