Lawmakers in California have passed Senate Bill 700, banning employers from inquiring about an applicant’s past use of marijuana. The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.
They intend to increase the protections provided to employees by previous legislation, which took effect in the prior legislative session. This legislation prohibited employers from penalizing employees for using marijuana during off-duty hours. In most cases, this Senate Bill 700 would ban employers from asking applicants about their past use of cannabis.
Current regulations make it illegal for employers to discriminate or penalize individuals based on off-duty use of marijuana. This ban applies to hiring, firing, and other terms or conditions of employment. It also prevents the test results indicating cannabinoid metabolites from factoring in these decisions.
However, the legislation includes exemptions for specific jobs. Examples of exceptions include positions requiring security clearances or federal background checks. The legislation also exempts workers in construction or building trades.
Senate Bill 700 would prevent employers from asking about past marijuana use. As such, employers may learn about an applicant’s past marijuana use through background checks only when permitted by law. Furthermore, marijuana users must understand that the bill does not allow them to possess or use marijuana on the job. It also does not allow employees to work while impaired when employers have rules prohibiting such behavior.
California is among several states that have passed or are considering bills to protect employees or job applicants who use marijuana. A similar law is under consideration on the federal level as well. The bill under federal consideration would allow marijuana users to apply for federal jobs or acquire security clearances. Should the new bill pass, it would take effect on January 1, 2024. This date is the same date the cannabis bill passed last year will take effect.
Employers should prepare for the potential signature that passes Senate Bill 700 into law. Regardless of its passing, employers should still consider reviewing their policies about marijuana use. They can choose not to view past or current use during off-duty hours. Furthermore, they can change regulations to ensure they do not unfairly disqualify workers based on prior marijuana offenses. The best way to ensure a fair and accurate screening process is by working with a trustworthy background-checking company. The right provider will use their experience to provide accurate and timely reports, allowing employers to make educated decisions.
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