National Law Review Article: California Legislative Update: Employment-Related Bills on the Horizon

California Legislative Update: Employment-Related Bills on the Horizon

The end of 2020 was not the end of the California Legislature’s focus on employment-related legislation.  Just two months into the new year, the Legislature has already introduced several bills addressing the workplace that could impact employers who still may be implementing coronavirus-related legislation.  This article discusses two such bills on the horizon that employers will want to follow as they work their way through the Legislature.

AB 1256 – Employment Discrimination and Cannabis Screenings

California employers are quite familiar with existing California law prohibiting various employment practices that discriminate on certain protected bases, such sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin, to name a few.  However, current law does not prohibit an employer from making employment-related decisions due to the presence of cannabis in a drug screening test.

AB 1256 seeks to address that lack of prohibition and minimize the role of urine testing for cannabis in the employment context.  If passed, it would add Section 52.8 to the Civil Code and would prohibit an employer from discriminating against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment on account of the fact that a drug screening test has found that person to have tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) in their urine.  The new law would provide an individual who has suffered employment discrimination due to the presence of THC in a urine drug screen a private right of action to pursue damages, injunctive relief, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

The bill still allows for employers to conduct a screening test for the presence of THC if (1) the employer is required to conduct that test by federal law or regulations; (2) the employer would lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit for failing to screen; or (3) employment is in the building and construction trades.

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