Federal government eases stance on state marijuana laws

August 30, 2013 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announcement updating the federal marijuana enforcement policy means the federal government won’t sue to keep states from allowing controlled recreational use of marijuana, but the effect on employers isn’t yet clear.

The DOJ announced on August 29 that it was revising its policy because of state legislation in Colorado and Washington legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The announcement emphasized, however, that marijuana use remains unlawful under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and federal prosecutors will continue to enforce that law.

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Ruling supports firing pot smokers despite Colorado law

April 29, 2013 0 COMMENTS

The Colorado Court of Appeals has upheld an employee’s firing for off-duty marijuana use, despite medical and recreational use of the drug being allowed under state law.

A quadriplegic employee who used marijuana under the state’s medical marijuana amendment filed a lawsuit after he tested positive for drugs in violation of company policy and was fired. He claimed his employer violated the Colorado’s lawful off-duty activity statute, which prohibits termination for any “lawful activity” conducted off an employer’s premises during nonworking hours.

In its April 25th ruling, the appeals court held that the employee’s use of marijuana wasn’t lawful activity because “for an activity to be ‘lawful’ in Colorado, it must be permitted by, and not contrary to, both state and federal law.” Since marijuana use is illegal under federal law, the employer didn’t violate the law in terminating the employee.

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New Tennessee law prohibits local mandates on pay, benefits

April 15, 2013 1 COMMENTS

by Kara Shea

On April 11, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed into law a bill prohibiting local governments from mandating health insurance benefits, leave policies, hourly wage standards, or prevailing wage standards that deviate from existing requirements of state and federal law as a condition of doing business with or within the jurisdiction of the local government.

The new law means that cities and towns in Tennessee may not establish prevailing wages higher than the federal minimum wage and/or state or federal prevailing wages. Any such local laws already on the books (e.g., the living wage ordinances enacted by Memphis and Shelby County a few years ago) are no longer enforceable.

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North Dakota employers need to be ready for new smoking law

November 12, 2012 0 COMMENTS

by Lisa Edison-Smith

North Dakota employers need to take steps to comply with a new antismoking law that will take effect on December 6, 2012.

On November 6, voters approved Measure 4 by a 2-1 margin. The law “prohibit[s] smoking, including the use of electronic smoking devices, in public places and most places of employment in the state, including certain outdoor areas.” It also provides that employers have “notification and enforcement responsibilities.”

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