California has developed a reputation as a sanctuary regarding immigration, and some cities more than others. Soon, however, you may be able to add medical marijuana users to the list of people seeking sanctuary. An active proposed bill could protect people who use medical marijuana from employment discrimination.
As it Stands
As of now, California employers can deny employment on the grounds of marijuana use, even for medical reasons. If you look back to Ross V. Ragingwire, you’ll see that the California Supreme Court does not have to accommodate medical marijuana use, disregarding the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) doesn’t bind employers to accommodate illegal drug use, and it was interpreted so employers can lawfully deny employment to people using medical marijuana, as it remains illegal under federal law.
In 2016, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act passed, and it codifies the employer’s choice to “maintain a drug and alcohol free workplace.” Health and Safety Code §11362.45(f).
However, Rob Bonta, California Assembly Member for District 18, and Bill Quirk, Assembly Member for District 20, coauthored Assembly Bill 2069. This bill would amend FEHA by creating a new protected category for Marijuana Medical Users. The goal of AB 2069 would be to “prohibit an employer from engaging in employment discrimination against a person on the basis of his or her status as, or positive drug test for cannabis by, a qualified patient or person with an identification card.”
AB 2069 would not, however, turn it into a free-for-all. Employers would still be allowed to take corrective actions against employees found to be impaired on the company premises. Additionally, AB 2069 would let employers deny employment “if hiring the individual or failing to discharge the employee would cause the employer to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law or regulations.”
What would AB 2069 Do?
What AB 2069 would do, if it makes it to law, would be to alter the entire legal environment. Employers will have to update their drug testing policies. Additionally, they’ll need to change the way they treat applicants and employees who test positive for marijuana. What AB 2069 would not do, however, is protect recreational use. If you’re a recreational marijuana user, California employers are still able to deny employment through drug testing policies.
This legislation raises a few concerns. Some question whether this is a reasonable accommodation, or if it’s an abuse of disability discrimination law. Additionally, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) may still preempt the bill as it is a federal law, and still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
In the 2016 case from New Mexico, Garcia V. Tractor Supply Co., a federal district court held that the CSA preempted the state’s marijuana law. On the other hand, in a 2017 case in Connecticut, another federal district court held that a statute very similar to AB 2069 was not preempted by the CSA. In the Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co. case, the court decided that the CSA does not specifically regulate an employment relationship, so it does not preempt the Connecticut law.
What Should You Do?
As always, if you have legal questions, you should consult with a lawyer directly. At the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard, you can count on them fighting for the little guy. You can call (310) 488-9020, or visit the website to see what Cathe can do for you.
2017 sure felt like it was the year of harassment. It seemed like every day or two there were new high-profile stories of sexual harassment claims in the news. You didn’t just see the claims though; there were social media movements like #metoo that started, or were rejuvenated as more and more survivors came forward. You don’t have to work for someone rich and powerful to suffer from sexual harassment; just ask any workplace attorney. Out of the fire of all of this hurt, came Senate Bill 396.
What is Senate Bill 396?
Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill on October 15, 2017. This new law requires employers with 50 or more employees to expand their already required two-hour sexual harassment training. In addition to the standard sexual harassment training, supervisors will receive training on policies prohibiting harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. All employees in supervisory capacities receive this training once every two years.
What Does All That Mean?
The California Fair Employment and Housing Council have definitions for “sex”, “gender”, “gender identity”, “gender expression”, and “transgender”. Each of these items are independent of the others as well. Because of Senate Bill 396, the already-required training will cover how to avoid harassment based on these items. This way, there will be less of a need for sexual harassment claims, and better protections for transgender individuals in the workplace.
So, What Should You Do If You Think You Need to File Sexual Harassment Claims?
Even with additional training, there will still be sexual harassment claims. If you’re in this unfortunate situation, you need to take advantage of your protections. No one should have to worry about sexual harassment, and that includes you. The first thing you should do after your sexual harassment is contact a labor attorney. You’re going to want a professional on your side.
Fighting back against sexual harassment claims starts before they ever happen. Try to have a plan of action if it happens. Freezing up in the moment is very common, and if this happens to you, don’t feel bad. However, if you’ve thought about how to handle the situation, your loud and clear message in the moment may not just establish that the advances were unwanted, but possibly end any problems before they can really start.
Once you find yourself in the situation of having to file sexual harassment claims, you’ll want to write down everything. Write down when you were harassed, what they said, and who was around to hear it. Do this as quickly as you can. Memories fade, but if you write it down right away you will have crystal-clear accounting. Document everything, from requests for sexual favors, to anything you think might have been retaliation for fighting back. Save every email, every memo. However, don’t record this using work property; use the notes app on your phone, or keep your own paper notebook on hand.
Remember, this is not your fault, and you’re not alone. Men and women deal with sexual harassment every day. If you need help with sexual harassment claims, or any type of workplace discrimination, the Law Offices of Cathe L. Caraway-Howard are here for you. Call (310) 488-9020, or visit the website to see how they’ll fight for you.