Getting high might no longer snuff out a job seeker’s hope of landing a job with the city of Rochester.
City Council is considering legislation that would drop pre-employment drug testing for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a compound found in marijuana. Exceptions would include those applying for public safety positions.
Mayor Lovely Warren and City Council President Loretta Scott jointly submitted the legislation this past week. Such testing identified about seven applicants out of hundred over the past year, said city spokesman Justin Roj.
“You have to wonder how many people decided not to apply because it was a requirement,” Scott said.
There has been considerable discussion in human resource circles involving businesses across the region, said Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Robert Duffy. And some have already have stopped testing new hires for marijuana.
But that has yet to become widespread across municipalities.
Beginning May 10, New York City will ban all employers from drug testing applicants for marijuana or THC. The state of Nevada, where recreational use is legal, made it illegal to deny employment because of a positive test. That is similar to the law in Maine.
Like what is being proposed for Rochester, these laws carve out exceptions where state and federal regulations come into play, such as with jobs in public safety or those requiring a commercial drivers license.
THC can remain in the body’s system for days, long after any point of intoxication, while alcohol disappears in a matter of hours, Duffy said, relating his understanding from his days as the city’s police chief: “To be fair those types of things have to be considered.”
“Why should we continue to unnecessarily continue to penalize people for that?” Scott asked, given the shift in the national dialogue and likelihood for state legalization in the not-to-distant future.
In their memo to City Council, dated April 20, Scott and Warren wrote:
“Removal of pre-employment testing for THC avoids unfair discrimination against individuals for an activity conducted during non-work hours that may have no effect on their ability to perform the job for which they are applying.”
Scott said advocates for legalizing marijuana brought the matter to the city a few months ago.
City Council members will consider the legislation in committee next month, before deciding whether to refer it to the full Council for a vote. The change in testing policy would be rolled out immediately, if approved.
Contact reporter Brian Sharp at email@example.com or at 585-258-2275. Follow him on Twitter @sharproc. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a digital subscription.
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