Williams during 2018 march.
New legislation introduced in the New York City Council today by Jumaane D. Williams would ban employers from testing prospective employees for marijuana usage in pre-employment hiring practices.
The bill, Intro 1445, would prohibit New York City employers from requiring a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment. Exceptions are provided for safety and security sensitive jobs, and those tied to a federal or state contract or grant. The legislation is co-sponsored by Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo and Council Member Carlina Rivera.
The introduction of this legislation comes as more elected officials, including recently Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, have endorsed the legalization of marijuana, which is currently being considered in the New York State Legislature. A large package of bills and resolutions were introduced today at City Hall related to marijuana and drug policy, driven by the Progressive Caucus of the City Council.
According to Vox reporting in 2018, about 70% of large employers use pre-employment drug screenings; this covers and affects about 40% of jobs. Failed tests lead to a depletion in the labor pool and an inability of many people to advance in their careers. Cannabis accounts for about half of all positive results on drug tests. These restrictions are harmful to employees and employers alike.
New York City Council Member Williams has a long history of supporting the legalization of marijuana as well as the expunging of records for those arrested for marijuana-related offenses. In November of 2018, he introduced a resolution calling on the state to expunge these records, and last April he introduced legislation to prevent the Department of Sanitation and the Taxi and Limousine Commission from using cannabis offenses as the sole reason for denial of license or dismissal from employment. He also has a record of expanding employment opportunities through legislation like the Fair Chance Act, which banned the box –this is when employers asks applicants who have a criminal record to check a box– on New York City job applications.
“We need to be creating more access points for employment, not less- 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,”Williams said, about the bill. “I’ve long advocated for legalization and the expunging of records, and this measure is in line with those goals. This legislation, like the Fair Chance Act before it, is good for both employers and prospective employees- it expands the pool of applicants by preventing people from being shut out.”
“Plain and simple, pre-employment drug testing, and sporadic drug testing, in the work environment is a violation of personal privacy,” Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo said. “It’s not an employer’s business what you do in your spare time, if it doesn’t affect your work product or the safety and well-being of your clients, colleagues and stakeholders. While New York State engages in a transformative cannabis legalization expansion, we want to underscore the importance of protecting all people from unfair hiring and firing practices due to cannabis use.”