With Illinois set to legalize recreational marijuana use January 1, 2020, a whole host of worker safety issues and potential workers’ compensation claims come into play as do potential employment law issues as employers grapple with how to handle potentially impaired employees and what consequences will follow – all within the framework of Illinois and federal laws.
In states that have legalized medical or recreational use of marijuana, human resources professionals no doubt have had their hands full trying to put forth ironclad substance abuse policies that protect them from legal consequences. Disciplining, terminating or other adverse employment actions taken against an employee regarding suspected drug use that are not clearly spelled out and conveyed in the policies of a workplace could very well come back to haunt a company in a wrongful termination or discrimination suit.
The other issue that comes up is if an employee is involved in a work accident while under the influence of marijuana. The question many employers will ask themselves in the wake of a work injury is whether marijuana use before or after work played a role. A positive drug test for marijuana following an accident may lead to terminating an employee and zero workers’ comp, but because there is no reliable way to test for marijuana impairment and a company’s policies may not be up to speed, a legal case could ensue.
We are quickly heading into uncharted territory with the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state – employment law issues are bound to follow. The advice for companies is to get ready before the law takes effect. Look at your policies, train your supervisors and managers, and educate employees on the long lasting effects of marijuana and how it could impact job performance and safety. Be sure to disseminate all policies regarding the consequences of workplace drug use.
Employees should also take note of the federal and state laws and be crystal clear on company policies. If you are injured at work and are denied workers’ compensation coverage because of alleged marijuana impairment or you are fired from your job or otherwise suffer adverse employment actions because of suspected marijuana use, it is important to discuss your concerns with a Quad Cities employment law attorney. We represent employees in difficult employment law matters. Contact the Quad Cities area wrongful termination lawyers of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC for a free consultation at 563-355-6478.