New York City employers wouldn’t be allowed to require job candidates to submit to drug testing for marijuana as a condition of hiring, under a bill approved by the City Council.
The bill (Intro. No. 1445-A), passed April 9 on a 41-4 vote, was part of a city drive to reduce the legal consequences of marijuana use. City police and prosecutors have vastly cut down on arrests and prosecutions for low-level marijuana crimes, and the council passed a resolution in March urging the state to legalize recreational marijuana.
“We need to be creating more access points for employment, not less,” said Public Advocate Jamaane Williams (D), who sponsored the bill in his capacity as a citywide elected official who presides over the council. “And as we move toward legalization, it makes absolutely no sense that we’re keeping people from finding jobs or advancing their careers because of marijuana use.”
The bill would make exceptions for jobs involving safety and security, as well as jobs tied to a federal or state contract.
Construction Jobs Excluded
Testimony by construction contractor organizations led to an exclusion of all workers on construction sites from the bill, not just those operating heavy machinery. Also not covered are police officers; other law enforcement or criminal investigation personnel; workers in jobs requiring a commercial driver’s license; and workers who care for or supervise children, medical patients, or people with disablities.
Jobs with a significant impact on health and safety, as determined in city rules, are also excluded. Drug testing provided under collective bargaining agreements also wouldn’t be covered.
The bill, which still requires approval from Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), would take effect a year after final enactment. It adds to the city Fair Chance Act, passed in 2015, which bars most employers from inquiring about or considering the criminal history of job applicants after extending conditional offers of employment.