New York City Bans Pre-Employment Drug Testing for Marijuana

As previously reported, the New York City Council passed legislation which bans New York City employers from testing prospective employees for marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. The bill makes such testing an unlawful discriminatory practice under the New York City Human Rights Law. The bill was passed April 9, 2019 by a 40-4 vote of New York City council members and sent to Mayor Bill de Blasio for his signature. It automatically became law after 30 days without action by the Mayor and therefore is scheduled to take effect May 10, 2020.

The new law makes exceptions for certain job positions. For example, it permits testing for safety and security sensitive jobs such as police officers or peace officers, jobs requiring a commercial driver’s license, and positions requiring the supervision of care of children, medical patients, and other vulnerable persons. The law will also except jobs that require drug testing as a condition of receiving a federal contract or grant and notably does not interfere with required federal drug testing mandated by the federal Department of Transportation. The legislation provides that the New York City Commission on Human Rights promulgate rules regarding its implementation in the upcoming year.

Notably, the bill does not restrict employers from screening job applicants for unlawful drugs other than marijuana or THC. It also does not limit testing current employees for marijuana or other drug use.

New York City employers should review their drug testing policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the new law.