[US] NYC consider marijuana testing ban for job applicants

A measure banning pre-hire marijuana testing for NYC job applicants has been passed by the Democrat-led City Council, ABC News reports.

Under the new legislation, the first of its kind, private behaviour will no longer be a barrier to employment. Across the states, in the wake of changing laws, lawmakers are exploring workplace policies around the drug. Marijuana continues to register in drug tests days after use.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams - a Democrat sponsor of the proposal - explained to the council, "If you ingest weed in whatever manner a month ago, I'm not sure how that prevents you from doing your job now."

There will be exceptions to who is covered by the rule but there are further objections from business groups and some council members.

Steven Matteo - Council Republican Leader - said in a statement, "Private businesses should have the power to determine their own hiring practices — not just in deciding what skills and experience are relevant to certain positions, but also whether the use of a specific drug could have an adverse impact on a prospective employee's ability to perform."

In the US job applicants have been tested for drugs since the late 1980s. In more recent years medical marijuana programs have been legalised by most states. Ten states and the District of Columbia also allow recreational use.

Lawsuits have been won by medical marijuana users in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts against companies who took back job offers or sacked employees after positive marijuana tests. A number of companies, countrywide, have stopped these tests on applicants altogether.

The NYC legislation goes further than other states. It stops companies from enforcing testing at any point in the hiring process. Applicants for roles within the police, construction workers, child care workers, commercial drivers and other specific roles are excluded.

Under the new law, if passed, employers may still test existing workers and may still sack employees who test positive for the drug.

The proposal now goes before Mayor Bill de Blasio for approval.  According to a spokesperson approached by The New York Times, City Hall supports the legislation.