AP NEWS

Nevada lawmakers hear bill on pre-hiring marijuana testing

February 21, 2019
In this March 31, 2011, photo, Nevada Assemblywoman Dina Neal presents a bill at the Legislature in Carson City, Nev. Neal is sponsoring legislation that would ban companies from disqualifying job candidates due to pre-employment marijuana use. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison, File)

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Business groups on Wednesday voiced concern over a Nevada bill that would ban companies from disqualifying job candidates due to pre-employment marijuana use.

The legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Dina Neal, prevents employers from refusing to hire a candidate who tests positive for marijuana use in a pre-employment drug screening.

The Democratic lawmaker said the legislation does not prevent an employer from taking action against an employee who uses marijuana after being hired. She said the effort is about equity and fairness and warned of creating a class of people who are cut out from work due to legally using marijuana before employment.

“Those people deserve not to be discriminated against because it is legal and it is lawful — just as lawful as getting drunk,” she said, speaking before lawmakers at a Wednesday afternoon hearing on the legislation. Neal said she is not advocating employees be allowed to show up drunk or high to work and argued the bill does not conflict with the Drug-Free Workplace Act.

Stronger opposition from business interests centered on a part of the bill that prohibits the employers from giving potential employees a character assessment, except in certain circumstances. The bill defines a “character assessment” as a test to evaluate personality and behavior traits, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Caliper Profile.

The Assembly committee adjourned without taking a vote on the measure. State law prevents companies from discriminating against an employee who uses marijuana outside of work, as long as the use does not affect safety or job performance.

Talking to lawmakers, business groups acknowledged the complexity of marijuana and workers, but voiced concerns that not doing pre-employment testing would negatively impact safety.

Paul Enos, CEO of the Nevada Trucking Association, says pre-employment screenings and character assessments keep truck drivers to a high standard, something that’s important for safety. He said there is already a higher standard for truck drivers when it comes to alcohol.

Enos said those standards also protect employers from civil litigation. He submitted an amendment that would allow job candidates for “safety sensitive” positions to be disqualified for using marijuana before employment.

For road safety, Enos said the trucking industry uses character assessments to look for certain personality traits. Impulsivity, for example, is associated with risk-taking behaviors and an increased crash risk, he said.