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Recent Client Alerts
 
Legalizing Marijuana: Implications for Employers
 
Legalizing marijuana in one form or another is becoming increasingly common in many states. According to The National Organization for the Reform on Marijuana Laws (NORML), this November voters in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will decide whether or not they want to legalize the adult use and sale of marijuana. Additionally, voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota will also decide on medical use measures on the fall ballot.
 
It appears that the social acceptance of marijuana has increased in the United States. In a study by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that consisted of interviews of over 36,000 people from two large population surveys, the number of people reported that they had used marijuana in the past year more than doubled in the span of 10 years. The study found that in 2001-02, 4.1% of people surveyed reported using marijuana, versus 9.5% who reported doing so in 2012-13.
 
Legalized marijuana continues to be big business. In a 2015 article, Corporate Screening reported that Colorado expected to collect nearly $50 million in taxes from it in 2014. And just in June, Fortune magazine reported that Colorado’s legal marijuana sales in 2015 generated more than $135 million in revenue from taxes and fees.
 
State Laws
A number of organizations have explored what impact legalized marijuana, both medicinal and recreational, has had on employers. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and most workplaces continue to retain a zero tolerance policy. A positive test at work can cost employees their jobs. But it’s also important to realize that there are differing state laws regarding legalized marijuana use. And different considerations for medical marijuana usage versus recreational usage. Employers should know the state laws where they do business and review their policies, taking into account how and when they should be applied.

 

Medical Marijuana

Most states do not require employers to make accommodations for medical marijuana users, but some do. These include Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada and New York. Employers in these states are limited in certain cases, in the actions they can take when an employee or applicant holds a valid medical marijuana card tests positive for marijuana use.

 

Recreational Marijuana

While Oregon and Washington do not have specific laws regarding the impact of recreational marijuana use in the workplace, there are express employer protections by law in Alaska, Colorado and the District of Columbia. These laws say that employers do not have to allow or accommodate the use, sale, possession, transfer, or the like of marijuana in the workplace.

 

Federal Guidelines

Certain employers and professions will be required to remain drug free, if they operate under federal guidelines. Examples include federal contractors and interstate transportation companies subject to U.S. Department of Transportation drug testing guidelines. These companies must follow federal requirements, despite any applicable state laws that permit marijuana use.

 

Legal Issues

Legislation appears to be supporting employers’ rights to prohibit the use and possession of marijuana while at work. In our 2015 article, we were waiting to see the final results of Brandon Coats v. DISH Network (a case where the plaintiff used medical marijuana and was terminated by his employer, DISH Network, after testing positive for marijuana during a routine drug test, violating the company’s zero-tolerance drug policy). The final decision in this case affirmed DISH Network’s right to terminate the employee for marijuana use, even if the employee did not use the drug on company premises and isn’t under influence while working.

 

Additional cases in California, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington have also affirmed this right. In January 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico dismissed a lawsuit by a new employee who was fired after failing a drug test for marijuana, even though state law allowed for medicinal usage and he was using it in accordance with the law. The judge in this case said that employers in New Mexico are not required to accommodate for medicinal marijuana usage.

 

Employer Considerations

It’s important that employers are familiar with the laws in the states in which they do business. In light of the expanding movement to legalize marijuana, it’s important to review substance abuse policies regularly. Employers who do business in states where an accommodation is required should take that into consideration.

 

Keep your employees educated about your company drug policies. Communicate with employees about your organization's drug policies and expect that they will have questions, especially in states with legalized marijuana laws. Let them know how your policies apply to legalized marijuana, if applicable.

 

As more states legalize marijuana, there aren’t any one-size fits all solutions for employers as they determine drug use policies and procedures. You’ll need to evaluate various strategies to determine which way is best for your organization to approach and handle the issue.


Legalizing Medical Marijuana in Ohio: What Employers Need to Know
 

On June 8, 2016, Governor John Kasich signed Ohio’s medical marijuana law, which takes effect September 6, 2016. Ohio became the 26th state to legalize the use of marijuana for specifically outlined medical reasons. The bill does not allow people to smoke marijuana, instead it has to be used in patches vapors, edibles, oils, or herbal material.

 

Employers may be wondering what effect the new law will have on them. Kevin Neudecker, Compliance Manager at Corporate Screening, said that the law will have minimal effect on employers. They are not required to “permit, or accommodate an employee’s use, possession or distribution of medical marijuana.”

 

Employers can still have policies against the use of medical marijuana. The Ohio law does not restrict an employer from establishing and enforcing a drug testing policy, drug-free workplace policy or zero-tolerance drug policy. Because marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, drug tests that include medical marijuana in the testing panel will still be returned as positive on a drug test even if the donor has a valid prescription.

 

Employers who drug test due to industry or legal guidelines will still be required to continue these programs. For example, employers who operate under federal safety guidelines, i.e. the Department of Transportation, are require testing for federally regulated substances, including marijuana.

 

Additionally, Neudecker explained that employees or applicants don’t have the right to file suit against an employer for refusing to hire, disciplining, retaliating, or otherwise taking an adverse employment action against a person related to medical marijuana. “A person discharged from employment for the use of medical marijuana shall be “considered to have been discharged for just cause,” if the use is in violation of the employer’s drug-free workplace policy.”

 

As with any new legislation, employers should review their policies. In this case, it’s best to review the policies related to drug testing with legal counsel to account for the potential use of medical marijuana by employees.


Portland Passes Its Own Ban the Box Laws
 
On January 1, 2016, Oregon’s “ban the box” law went into effect. Prohibiting employers from asking about criminal history on job applications or asking about it prior to a first interview, the law applies to all employers.

 

Effective July 1, 2016, the city of Portland took the restrictions even further. Businesses with at least six employees are barred under the Portland ordinance from asking about criminal convictions during the initial interview or at any point prior to making a conditional job offer.  Employers are also not able to access an applicant’s criminal history from another source.

 

Philadelphia Ordinance Restricts Credit Checks on Job Applicants
 

A new law in Philadelphia that restricts the use of credit checks and credit-related information when making employment decisions became effective on July 7, 2016. Under this law, employers cannot consider credit-related information when hiring or firing. Details about the law are available here.

 

In light of this law in addition to recent significant amendments to the city’s ban-the-box law, Corporate Screening believes it’s important that employers doing business in Philadelphia review their policies and procedures to ensure they are in compliance with this new law.

 

Massachusetts to Bar Employers from Asking About Salaries

A new Massachusetts law will prohibit employers from asking about applicants’ salaries before offering them a job. Employers have to wait until after they extend a formal job offer to ask about salary history.

 

The new law was passed in an effort to strengthen equal pay for men and women, and received bipartisan support. In addition to prohibiting employers from asking about salary history, it allows workers to openly discuss their salaries, without fear of employers retaliating against them. It also requires equal pay for not “comparable work.”

 

The new law received a lot of national attention, but it allows plenty of time for Massachusetts employers to make the necessary adjustments. The bill will go into effect in 2018.


Time Warner Class Action Dismissed by Judge

 

In August, a Wisconsin federal judge dismissed a class action lawsuit against Time Warner Cable, citing a ruling by the Supreme Court in the case of Spokeo v. Robbins. U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper ruled that the case lacked standing under the Supreme Court’s May ruling.

 

In Gubala v. Time Warner Cable, the plaintiff, Derek Gubala, claimed that Time Warner kept personal identifiable information that included the names, addresses and Social Security numbers of customers after they had ceased being customers, in violation of the Cable Communications Policy Act (CCPA). This, he claimed, put former customers at risk of identity theft and other dangers. His lawyers wanted a class-action status for this lawsuit.

 

Judge Pepper dismissed the case, saying that the violation did not “demonstrate a concrete harm” to the plaintiff. In her ruling, she cited the Spokeo case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court said that legal claims of this type required actual harm to have been done to the plaintiffs.

 

Why is this case so important? It demonstrates the impact of the Spokeo decision by the Supreme Court. When that decision came down in May this year, it was anticipated that it would impact many class action lawsuits. And this ruling is indicative of that impact. Moving forward, we expect to see Spokeo cited in more of these types of cases. 


Are You Up-to-Date with E-Verify Policies and Processes?

 

Employers who participate in E-Verify need to ensure that the users are correctly following E-Verify policies and processes. Corporate Screening’s partner, Form I-9 Compliance, LLC has compiled a useful training and knowledge assessment.

 

We invite you and your users to use it to evaluate your knowledge of E-Verify and help ensure you are correctly following its policies and processes. To view a pdf of the assessment, please click here.

 

Corporate Screening Re-Accredited by Background Screening Credentialing Council

In July, Corporate Screening received word from the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) that it had successfully completed reaccreditation. Accreditation is valid for five years, provided the accredited organization successfully completes an Interim Surveillance Audit during the third year of accreditation.

 

The BSCC oversees the application process and is the governing accreditation body that validates the background screening organizations seeking accreditation meet or exceed a measurable standard of competence.

 

In order to become and remain accredited, background screening organizations are required to demonstrate initial and ongoing compliance with the accreditation standard, as prepared by the BSCC. A third party auditor completes rigorous desk and on-site audits, and companies are required to document each of their policies and processes within the areas of consumer protection, legal compliance, client education, researcher and data product standards, verification standards, and general business practices.

 

Greg Dubecky, Corporate Screening’s President, remarked, “We are pleased to have achieved this important milestone. Many of our clients have to undergo accreditation, and are well aware of what it takes to become and remain an accredited organization. Additionally, it provides clients with the reassurance that the results they receive from Corporate Screening are from an industry leader.”


Client Satisfaction Survey: Please Share Your Thoughts

 

Each year, Corporate Screening asks our clients to share their opinions about how we are doing in our Client Satisfaction Survey. What do we do with this information? It helps us see how well we are meeting our clients’ needs, lets us assess what we are doing right, and it helps us find out what we need to improve. We act on the information that you provide and your feedback helps ensure you and all of our clients continue to receive the high quality service that you have come to expect from Corporate Screening.

 

An email message was recently sent to clients that contains a link to the survey. If you did not receive the email, please contact our Client Support Team and they will be happy to assist you by sending you a link to the survey. To contact them, please call 800-229-8606, option 4 or email them at CustomerSupport@CorporateScreening.com.


“Background Screening – The Basics and Beyond”
 
On September 15, 2016 Corporate Screening’s partner, ERC is hosting an Ask the Expert event, “Background Screening – the Basics and Beyond.” We invite organizations located in NE Ohio to register for this free event and learn more about background screening by attending this presentation and round table discussion. Discover important issues in background screening, ask questions and discuss your program with experts and peers. To register for the event, visit “Ask the Expert: Background Screening – The Basics and Beyond.
 
VerifyStudents Corner
Student Background News

Learn More about Our Partner, ACEMAPP

Then Register for a Free Webinar to See the Integration

 

VerifyStudents by Corporate Screening has partnered with ACEMAPP, a leading online clinical rotation matching and management system. The resulting solution provides a single dashboard that integrates student background screening with clinical rotation placement and management, streamlining the process and saving valuable administrative time.

 

Who is ACEMAPP?

Corporate Screening’s partner, ACEMAPP is a product of the Michigan Health Council, a Michigan-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to creating a culture of health with health professionals at the heart of the delivery system. Specifically, ACEMAPP is a secure, online, clinical rotation matching, student on-boarding, and document storage solution for clinical sites, schools and consortia.

 

Since it was first developed, the ACEMAPP system has grown steadily. Its mission is to provide an easy and efficient standardized process for clinical education. ACEMAPP coordinates clinical experiences across multiple professions, and includes features such as bulk uploading of rotation requests, customizable reports and dashboards, and a platform for schools and healthcare institutions to coordinate.

 

Each year, ACEMAPP serves over 12,000 students and faculty from 150 education programs, learning in 80 clinical sites.

 

VerifyStudents and ACEMAPP Integration

Corporate Screening and ACEMAPP teamed up to integrate the VerifyStudents suite of student background products within the ACEMAPP dashboard, providing a single access platform to access and manage data. Data is securely and automatically populated and shared, reducing the need for manual entry.

 

The process is easy for everyone involved. Students are able to log in to VerifyStudents directly from their ACEMAPP dashboard and complete the background application. Once the background is complete, they can view the status from their dashboard. Authorized administrators from both schools and clinical sites can log in to their ACEMAPP dashboards to see the status of student background checks, drug tests and immunization/health requirements.


 

Free Webinar: Learn More About the VerifyStudents/ACEMAPP Integration

Corporate Screening and ACEMAPP invite you to learn more about this exciting new integration by attending one of our upcoming webinars. To register, select the time and date that work best for you, click on the link, and complete the registration form. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 1-2 p.m. EDT: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6011249248555192834

 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 11 a.m.- 12 p.m. EDT: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5095544079107204865