Although cannabis is legal in Illinois, it doesn’t mean the workplace can’t test for it and fire employees if their results are positive. A newly introduced bill in the General Assembly looks to make some changes. Illinois is in its final stages of passing the bill HB4116 that would ban employers from firing or refusing to hire employees based solely on a positive cannabis test. However, only small amounts of marijuana in an employees’ system would be acceptable under the new legislation.
Low trace amounts of cannabis would constitute a minimum of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood or 10 nanograms per milliliter in bodily fluids like saliva. Since cannabis is still federally illegal, those with federal employers or contracts, would not be covered under the bill. James Baker, a Springfield attorney, whose firm (Barker, Baker,& Krajewski) specialize in employment law says drug testing in the workplace would still be legal under the bill.
According to Baker, employers can only know about marijuana-related accidents if they’re allowed to continue drug testing. Baker said, “There could be drug testing based on reasonable suspicion, there can be random drug testing, there can be drug testing following an accident.” The bill would provide exceptions for groups like emergency workers, however, it also allows employers to discipline employees for impairment on the job.
This piece of legislation was introduced by Representative Bob Morgan, D-Highland Park, on July 30. He said, “The intent is to categorize cannabis use on personal time the same way we treat any other substance so long as you’re not impaired in the workplace.” This is a great step in the right direction for marijuana reform and the protection of employees in the workplace.