New Jersey Drug Testing Laws 2024

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New Jersey Drug Testing Laws 2024

Drug testing laws in New Jersey as they relate to cannabis are outlined in the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act and Bill A890. The Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act prohibits employers from taking punitive employment actions against employees based only on their status as registered medical marijuana users. If an employee or job applicant tests positive for cannabis, the employer is required to offer an opportunity for the individual to explain the positive result, including the possibility of being a registered medical marijuana user. The law denies adverse actions, such as those resulting in actual impairment at work, as justifications for employee/applicant defense.

Bill A890 prohibits employers from refusing to hire, discharging, or taking adverse actions against employees for using cannabis. Employees cannot be subjected to adverse actions solely based on the presence of non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in their bodily fluids. To take an adverse action, an employee must be impaired at work, and the drug screening must include scientifically reliable and objective drug testing methods and procedures, such as tests conducted on urine, blood, or saliva samples. In order to determine an employee’s state of impairment, a physical evaluation must be carried out by an individual with the requisite certification to determine the employee's state of impairment or lack thereof. This evaluation must be performed by an individual with a Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert (WIRE) certification.

The employer may use the drug test results when determining the appropriate employment action, including dismissal, suspension, demotion, or other disciplinary action.

What Kinds of Drug Tests Can Employers Conduct in New Jersey?

New Jersey employers may conduct pre-employment, random, or reasonable suspicion drug screenings by collecting blood, urine, or other bodily fluid samples to test for:

  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • THC (marijuana and cannabinoids)
  • Cocaine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Methadone
  • Opioids or opiates, such as codeine, oxycodone, fentanyl, and morphine
  • Prescription drugs

Can Employers Do Random Drug Testing in New Jersey?

Random drug testing of employees is generally not allowed, except for those occupying safety-sensitive positions. Nevertheless, the New Jersey CREAMMA introduces a specific provision concerning cannabis testing. Employers retain the right to conduct random drug tests exclusively for cannabis, encompassing pre-employment screenings or regular drug screenings of current employees to determine marijuana use during working hours.

Note that New Jersey courts have imposed several constraints on employers' implementation of drug testing policies. These include:

  • Ensuring that testing procedures prioritize privacy and dignity to the greatest extent possible
  • Restricting testing measures to those necessary for detecting the presence of prohibited drugs
  • Maintaining confidentiality of testing information

In addition, employees must receive advance notice of the drug-testing program, comprehensive details about the selection process for testing, an explanation of the test analysis procedures, a cautionary note about the lasting effects of drugs in the system, notification regarding the consequences of testing positive for a banned substance, and information about the repercussions of refusing to undergo drug testing.

What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test in New Jersey for a Job?

As per Bill A890, employers are prohibited from discriminating against any person in hiring, employment, or any employment-related aspects based on their use or non-use of cannabis products, including smoking, vaping, aerosolizing, or any other methods. Additionally, employers cannot take adverse actions against an employee based solely on the presence of THC metabolites in their bodily fluids.

An employee must exhibit actual impairment while at work to warrant an adverse action. Consequently, as part of the drug testing process, a physical evaluation is mandatory to assess the employee's level of impairment. This evaluation must be carried out by an individual holding a Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert (WIRE) certification.

Can I Be Fired for Refusing a Drug Test in New Jersey?

According to New Jersey Administrative Code § 12:17-10.8, where a drug-free workplace or drug testing is a prerequisite of employment, an employee who refuses to provide a test sample for the employer violates a condition of employment. If separated from employment for this reason, the employee may be disqualified for benefits for misconduct connected with such work. However, in order for the disqualification for benefits to apply, the employer must have a written drug test policy, which has been conveyed to the employee.

Can You Get Fired for Failing a Drug Test with a Medical Card in New Jersey?

The Jake Honig Compassionate Use Act offers protections against adverse employment actions solely based on an individual's status as a registered medical marijuana cardholder. According to the Act, if an employee or job applicant tests positive for cannabis, the employer is obligated to allow them to provide an explanation for the positive result. This allows individuals the right to delay disclosure of their medical marijuana use until after a positive test result.

Despite the general prohibition on adverse employment actions, certain exceptions exist. Employers can take disciplinary measures or terminate employees who possess or use marijuana during work hours or on the workplace premises outside of working hours. Additionally, employers are not compelled to undertake actions that would violate federal law, jeopardize federal licenses, or risk the loss of federal contracts or funding.

New Jersey law extends protection against discrimination to employees with disabilities, encompassing medical conditions for which an employee uses medical marijuana as part of their treatment. Employers are not only prohibited from engaging in disability discrimination but also have an affirmative obligation to provide reasonable accommodations, enabling disabled employees to perform their job responsibilities effectively.

Also, New Jersey’s apex court ruled in March 2020 that employees may not be fired for failing a drug test due to the use of medical marijuana. According to the apex court’s ruling, as long as employees are not under the influence of marijuana at work, medical marijuana cardholders are protected from discrimination, echoing an earlier New Jersey appellate court decision.

Can Employers Conduct Drug Tests on Applicants in New Jersey?

New Jersey employers can request that job applicants submit for drug testing at any stage of the employment process. However, before an employer may take any adverse employment action, the applicant must be allowed to provide an explanation if the result of the drug test results positive. Also, the applicant must have received prior notification that a drug test will be conducted as part of the application process.

Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing Allowed in New Jersey?

New Jersey pre-employment drug testing laws do not make a pre-employment drug test mandatory for job applicants but allow employees to decide whether to require it. Per Bill A890, a drug test for cannabis may not be done as part of a pre-employment screening, except for the employees outlined in Subsection b (1) of Section 48 of P.L. 2021, c.16 (C.24:6I-52).

Does New Jersey Allow Public Agencies to Submit Employees to Workplace Drug Tests?

Public employees in New Jersey are not exempted from the state’s drug testing laws. Public employees may be drug tested when there is reasonable suspicion that they may be under the influence of intoxicants.

Can Employers Choose to Create Drug-Free Workplace Policies?

Yes. New Jersey laws allow employers to create drug-free workplace policies in order to ensure drug-free workplace environments. While state laws protect from discrimination for employees, employers can insist on zero tolerance for illegal drug use in workplace environments and during work hours.

Employees Exempted From New Jersey Workplace Drug Testing Laws

New Jersey workplace drug testing laws do not apply to individuals who are federal employees in the state. The CREAMMA contains an exemption for employers classified as federal contractors. The legislation stipulates that if enforcing its provisions would demonstrably harm an employer obligated by the terms of a federal contract, the employer has the prerogative to modify their employee restrictions in accordance with federal law, rules, and regulations, as outlined in N.J.S.A. 24:6I-52.

For federal contractors adhering to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) drug testing mandates applicable to safety-sensitive roles and other positions regulated by DOT, drug testing policies typically ensure zero tolerance for illegal drug use. Therefore, employees working in these positions may be subjected to random drug tests and other agency-specific workplace drug policies

Also, persons who are law enforcement officials face stricter drug testing laws as their jobs involve public safety. In order to ensure that New Jersey citizens receive police services from law enforcement officers whose competency and integrity are beyond question, the state enforces stringent drug testing requirements as published in the Attorney General's Law Enforcement Drug Testing Policy.

What are the Requirements for Drug Testing Labs in New Jersey?

There are no specific requirements stated for drug testing laboratories in New Jersey. However, the New Jersey State Medical Examiner Toxicology Laboratory is the only drug testing center approved for analyzing law enforcement drug tests conducted under the Law Enforcement Drug Testing Policy. The state's law enforcement agencies are not permitted to use any other facility or laboratory to analyze urine specimens for illegal drug use by law enforcement officers.

Also, private employers in New Jersey typically use state-certified laboratories with SAMHSA certifications to analyze drug test samples from applicants and employees.

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