A Florida state senator has put forward a bill to protect medical marijuana users from workplace discrimination, including firings for positive drug tests, as discrimination lawsuits follow the trend of legalization across the country.
The introduction of Senate Bill 962 is in response to numerous lawsuits filed by workers who were terminated from their jobs for cannabis use. Several states with legalized medical marijuana have protections for users in the workplace, including barring employers from using positive test results to decide on hiring or firing unless the user is bringing their marijuana to work or they work in an environment where safety is a concern.
The proposed bill incorporates protections similar to those afforded to workers in other states, such as Arizona, Maine and Minnesota. In the proposed bill, employers still would be able to punish workers who possess or use medical marijuana during normal business hours. And jobs with “safety-sensitive” duties, such as work with hazardous materials or work that involves carrying a firearm, are exempt from the proposed rules.
Additionally, the proposed bill would permit employers with drug test policies to have five days to provide written notice to applicants who test positive for marijuana or its metabolites, explaining the applicant’s right to provide an explanation for the positive test result. The applicant or employee would then have five business days to submit information explaining or contesting the test result, or to request a confirmation test. According to the text of the proposed bill, employers may take “adverse personnel action” against any employee if the employer has evidence that the medical marijuana use is impairing the worker’s ability to perform his or her job responsibilities.
The proposed bill highlights the inherent conflict between the rights of the individual to accept and undergo treatment for legitimate medical conditions in contradiction to employers’ desire to have a “drug-free” working environment in order to maintain certain standards of work quality and safety.
A similar bill was introduced in the Florida House of Representatives in early November 2019. Both the Florida House of Representatives and Florida State Senate are expected to consider the respective bills in the 2020 legislative sessions.