Cheryl Orr, partner and co-chair of the Labor & Employment group, and Sarah Millar, partner and vice chair of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation partner, were both quoted in InsideCounsel’s April 2014 Labor & Employment Digest.  The monthly digest brings together the voices of labor & employment and employee benefits lawyers to get their take on the issues shaping the policies of workplace compliance and regulation.  Sarah’s quote looked at how employers can avoid the challenges presented by tobacco cessation programs and Cheryl’s looked at how the anti-drug policies of companies located in states where marijuana is now legal for medical or recreational use are affected.  Both quotes are below in their entirety.

Avoid the challenges of tobacco cessation programs

“Tobacco cessation programs structured outside a health plan can be problematic. Some state laws prevent employers from making hiring and firing decisions based on someone's smoking status. It puts employers between a rock and a hard place. The law is complicated and ties your hands in some respect, but there are options and creative ways to incentivize healthy behavior. It's a matter of walking through the steps and thinking it through, then coming up with an effective communication plan.”

Marijuana legalization and anti-drug policies

“Companies located in one or more of the 21 states that allow the use of medical marijuana need to understand the laws may affect a company's anti-drug policy. For employers that have federal contracts or are otherwise subject to federal regulations concerning drug-free workplaces, your practices do not need to change. Otherwise, employers should expect more challenges from staff that fail drug tests but claim they weren't impaired while working. Training programs for managers will help them recognize signs of impairment and answer inquiries regarding the use of medical marijuana.”