Effective July 1, 2021, Connecticut has legalized the use of recreational cannabis for adults over the age of 21. This now means that employers in Connecticut cannot discriminate against an employee or a job applicant for engaging in off-duty cannabis use. However, an employer can prohibit, and in some cases, implement discipline for the use, possession, and distribution of cannabis in the workplace. For example, it may be permissible to take an adverse action against an employee, such as discipline or termination, if the employer has a reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence of cannabis while at work, or if the employee manifests certain articulable symptoms of drug impairment while working that decrease the employee’s performance.
The new law also permits drug testing, but only under certain circumstances. First, the employer must have implemented and distributed a drug testing policy to its employees or made such policy available to a job applicant. If there is a policy in place, and if there is evidence of cannabis use, then the employer needs to show that not taking an adverse action against the employee would cause the employer to lose a federal contract; or that the employer reasonably believes the employee is engaged in cannabis use while performing the employee’s work duties; or that the employee manifests specific, articulable symptoms of drug impairment while working that decrease the employee’s performance.
What Should Employers Do Now?
- Review current employment policies and drug testing policies and make sure that they are compliant with this new law;
- If an employer decides to conduct drug testing in the future, implement and distribute a new drug testing policy in accordance with this new law;
- Train managers and human resources personnel about this new law.
If you have questions, please contact Pro Bono Partnership at 914-328-0674 (Fairfield County) or 860-541-4951 (outside of Fairfield County).
This document is provided as a general informational service to volunteers, clients, and friends of Pro Bono Partnership. It should not be construed as, and does not constitute, legal advice on any specific matter, nor does distribution of this document create an attorney-client relationship.