Bill Prohibits Discriminating Against Applicants for Positive Marijuana Tests

Drug Testing

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On February 19, 2021, California Assembly Member Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) introduced Assembly Bill 1256 (AB 1256), a bill that would prohibit employers from discriminating against a person in hiring, termination, or any condition of employment due to the fact that a drug test has found that person to have marijuana in their urine.

In addition, AB 1256 specifies that a person who suffered discrimination in violation of this law may institute and prosecute a civil action for damages, injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and costs, any appropriate equitable relief to protect the exercise of the right or rights secured, and any other relief the court may deem proper.

AB 1256 would add Section 52.8 to the Civil Code (CIV) of the State of California. The bill would also provide that the law does not prohibit an employer from conducting a drug screening test for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the principal psychoactive constituent of marijuana – in any of the following instances:

  • The employer is required to conduct that test by federal law or regulations.
  • The employer would lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit for failing to do so.
  • The employment is in the building and construction trades.

Existing California law establishes various personal rights, makes unlawful certain employment practices that discriminate on certain protected bases, and makes a person who engages in certain prohibited conduct liable in a cause of action by the aggrieved person. The bill is expected to be heard by a policy committee in March 2021.

The rate of urine drug testing positivity in the U.S. workforce increased to a sixteen-year high in 2019, climbing to 4.5 percent, the highest level since 2003, according to an analysis by Quest Diagnostics. Marijuana positivity in the U.S. workforce increased nearly 11 percent in urine testing from 2018 to 2019 and 29 percent since 2015.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider that was ranked the number one background screening firm by HRO Today in 2020 – provides Pre & Post Employment Drug Testing Solutions with access to more than 10,000 collection facilities. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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