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5 Top Labor and Employment Laws & Regs from 2019

December 19, 2019, Law360, by Vin Gurrieri

Nevada Limits Pre-Hire Drug Screens

California made headlines with laws like A.B. 5 and other statutes that addressed issues such as employment arbitration agreements and workplace sexual harassment, and other states made their own waves when it came to employment laws. One of those is Nevada, which delved into the increasingly thorny issue of cannabis and its application to the workplace. The Silver State, which legalized marijuana for recreational use several years ago, enacted a law that prevents an employer from rescinding a job offer if a job applicant tests positive for marijuana after the offer was made.

“I think there [are] evolving attitudes [about cannabis] but the bottom line is that marijuana is still illegal at a federal level,” said Mackenzie Warren, a Nevada-based lawyer at McDonald Carano LLP. “So, the idea that screening be eliminated entirely is not an option. I think a baseline is employers are going to have to build out some new policies that are a little bit creative to establish some new screening practices, and, then more importantly, [train] the workers to be able to spot impairment.”

Diane Welch, Warren’s colleague at McDonald Carano, noted that exceptions in the law exist for individuals in professions like police, fire or emergency medical services or jobs that require operation of heavy equipment, among others. But, she said the area “most ripe for challenge” by employees is a catch-all provision in the statute that allows employers to determine when workplace safety could be adversely affected.

“The legalization of marijuana for recreational use has really created a quandary for employers, especially those that rely on federal dollars and operate under a federal grant,” Welch said. “And that is because it’s still illegal under federal law, so those restrictions apply, but yet you’ve got employees [who] may not be that aware of federal requirements, and all they know is [that] state law permits it.”

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In 2024, McDonald Carano celebrates 75 years of serving Nevada’s legal, business, government, and civic communities. More than 60 lawyers and government relations professionals serve state, national, and international clients from our offices in Reno, Las Vegas, and Carson City. McDonald Carano provides legal services and government affairs and advocacy counsel to startups, corporations, trade associations, nonprofits, public entities, high-net-worth individuals, investors, and public-private partnerships throughout Nevada. We are proud to be your Nevada law firm since 1949.

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