Legalization of Marijuana Increases Need for Staffing Insurance
Marijuana laws have changed dramatically in many states throughout the nation in recent years. Once criminalized nationwide, some 18 states currently allow the use of medical marijuana for treatment of dozens of ailments and many others have decriminalized or eliminated jail time for possession of small amounts of the substance. Washington and Colorado have even amended their legislation to allow the sale, use and possession of recreational marijuana, and many other states have ballot measures pending public vote. This changing legal landscape concerning the use of marijuana has left many employers struggling to adjust to the changing landscape. Employers and employees have been left wondering what these new laws mean for employee drug testing and employment termination based on the possession and use of the substance.
Most employees expect that their right to use medical marijuana is protected and should have no impact on their employment; however this is not often the case. Even medical marijuana users with the proper documentation have found the law to be on the side of their employers. In most states cases where employees were fired over marijuana use are typically found in favor of the employer. This is because these legislators have done little to interfere with the business sector’s ability to adjust on their own in this specific area. Colorado’s legislation for example, explicitly states that employers have no obligation to “to permit or accommodate the use of marijuana in the workplace or to affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.”
The primary reason that employers still hold the right to dismiss an employee on the basis of marijuana usage lies in the fact that despite the various state laws that permit or decriminalize marijuana use, the substance is still classified as an illegal narcotic under federal regulations. While state laws may protect individuals who use marijuana either recreationally or medicinally, the U.S. Department of Justice continues to enforce federal marijuana laws which criminalize the substance. As a result any cases of employees suing for wrongful termination over marijuana use that are tried on the federal level are likely to be dismissed on the basis of federal statutes. For now, it seems that employers are free to uphold their zero-tolerance drug policies; however this may not prevent legal complications. Employees continue to file law suits and make claims against businesses who strictly uphold their zero-tolerance policies, even to no avail. Simply being faced with legal complications can be burdensome for any business, whether they are in the wrong of not.
At World Wide Specialty Programs, we provide comprehensive insurance solutions for staffing industry professionals and operations designed to help mitigate risk exposures as they arise. Changing employment legislation can be a huge hurdle for the staffing and HR professionals, but our Staffing Insurance specialists can help you gain the access to quality solutions designed to fit your clients’ needs. We offer a complete portfolio of business insurance policies from general liability to EPL and professional liability to ensure that staffing professionals are protected through all of their services. Give our Staffing Insurance specialists a call today at (877) 256-0468 to learn more about how we can help your clients.