Oregon is one of eight states in our country in which marijuana is legal for recreational use. While marijuana is legal in our state, it is still illegal at the federal level. These contradictory laws have created a new set of legal battles for organizations and individuals around the state and country. What does this mean for Salem area workers?
Because marijuana is illegal at the federal level, its use is not written into federal protections related to employment law. Therefore, marijuana use must be codified into state law to protect employees who wish to use it recreationally. Until then, businesses and employees may find themselves at odds with a company’s marijuana policy.
Senate Bill 301 seeks to solve that problem. Introduced in January, S.B. 301 seeks to treat recreational marijuana use similar to tobacco use – as long as an employee uses it away from work and does not let it interfere with job duties, he or she cannot be fired. As of mid-April, the bill had been reviewed in a Senate committee work session but has yet to receive a vote.
Oregon is an “at will” employment state
Although marijuana legalization passed via ballot initiative in November 2014 and became legal for personal use in July 2015, employees have still been fired for testing positive for marijuana in a urinalysis, according to The Oregonian.
Oregon is an “at will” employment state, which means an employer can fire someone for any reason not protected under the law. Even if S.B. 301 becomes law, employees should still be careful to check whether or not off-duty marijuana use is protected by a union agreement or other employment contract.
When can an employer drug test me?
Because employers can still base employment decisions on marijuana use, it is important to understand the law related to drug testing. Most employers administer drug tests randomly or based on reasonable suspicion. Others may do so following an employment offer.
The law related to drug testing and employment may change soon, but until then, knowing the law is the best way for local workers to understand their rights as employees.