Nov 19, 2019

Clarifications to Illinois' recreational cannabis law

Illinois employers are preparing for legalized recreational cannabis by reviewing and updating their workplace drug use and testing policies. Many employers are finding it difficult to balance their employees’ and applicants’ privacy rights to use legal products outside the workplace with their need to ensure safety in their workplace. Employers are permitted to prohibit employees from being under the influence of cannabis or using cannabis in the workplace but evaluating employees for impairment can be different than testing for use.

On Nov. 14, 2019, the Illinois General Assembly clarified the section of the new law that addresses employer liability. In Section 10-50, Illinois employers are expressly permitted to adopt “reasonable zero tolerance or drug free workplace policies” concerning “drug testing, smoking, consumption, storage and use of cannabis in the workplace” so long as their policies are applied in a nondiscriminatory manner. The clarification in this section excludes any action being taken against an employer:

"pursuant to [the] employer’s reasonable workplace drug policy, including but not limited to subjecting an employee or applicant to reasonable drug and alcohol testing,reasonable and nondiscriminatory random drug testing, and discipline, termination of employment, or withdrawal of a job offer due to a failure of a drug test."

Employers will be permitted to use fair and reasonable drug testing policies designed to protect their employees and implement them in a nondiscriminatory manner.  

It is not known precisely what employers will face come Jan. 1, 2020, but Illinois employers may continue to use reasonable drug testing policies to protect the safety of their workplace.

Consult a Chuhak & Tecson Employment attorney for more information regarding the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act and for recommended procedures that promote a safe environment in the workplace.

This Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. communication is intended only to provide information regarding developments in the law and information of general interest. It is not intended to constitute advice regarding legal problems and should not be relied upon as such.

Client alert authored by:
Jeralyn H. Baran, Principal