The 2020 November Election Was a Big Day . . . for Marijuana.

While Americans across the country were glued to their TVs throughout the day, it’s noteworthy to mention that aside from the Presidential election, it was a big day in America for the legalization of marijuana. In fact, voters in five states approved new measures to legalize medical or recreational marijuana. Here’s a quick rundown of ballot measures that passed:

Arizona
While an earlier legalization measure failed in 2016, voters this time around passed Prop 207—the Smart and Safe Arizona Act (SSAA). This new legislation will permit possession (up to one ounce) and use of marijuana for adults ages 21+, and will permit individuals to grow up to six marijuana plants in their primary residence.

Mississippi
Nearly 70% of voters supported Mississippi Ballot Measure 1, legislation permitting doctors within the state to prescribe medical marijuana for patients with at least one of nearly two dozen qualifying conditions such as cancer, PTSD, HIV, and many more.

Montana
Voters passed Initiative 190 and Initiative 118, which together legalize the consumption, possession, and purchase of marijuana for adults ages 21+. This legislation also provides an opportunity for people serving marijuana-related sentences—which are no longer considered crimes under these Initiatives—to request resentencing or that their convictions be expunged.

New Jersey
A majority of New Jersey voters supported legalization, by a roughly 2-to-1 margin, to pass Public Question No. 1. This legislation will legalize the use and possession of marijuana for adults ages 21+, and will also legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of marijuana. Keep an eye out for neighboring states to consider and introduce future legislation measures to capitalize on this area’s tax revenue potential.

South Dakota
Voters overwhelmingly passed Constitutional Amendment A and Measure 26, making it the first state to legalize marijuana for both recreational and medical use on the same ballot. Legislation legalizes recreational marijuana use, possession, and distribution of up to one ounce for adults ages 21+. Additionally, this allows for a medical marijuana program to support patients with a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition.

Oregon
Additionally, it’s worth reporting that Oregon voters passed Measure 110, which decriminalizes possession of small amounts of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine—making them no longer punishable by jail time, but instead amounting to something along the lines of a traffic ticket. It also evolves addiction assistance and health services, offering critical help instead of a jail sentence.

Please keep in mind that in spite of evolving legislation, employers still have a right to maintain a drug-free workplace and/or maintain workplace policies that address drug and alcohol use among employees or applicants. We’re happy to answer any substance abuse screening questions you may have, help you implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs, or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us.

Compliance Clips for November 2020

EMPLOYMENT LAW

2020 Headlines
While Halloween is now officially behind us, it’s still worth a quick look at 2020 headlines that are sure to give HR professionals—and the rest of us—nightmares! Steer clear of lawsuits by managing with care and attention to employment law.
READ MORE

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Extension Still Applies: Form I-9 Requirements in response to COVID-19
The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. 
The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, remote I-9 document review has been extended; the expiration date for these accommodations is now November 19, 2020.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

Exploring the Basics of Form I-9
With U.S. government focus on enforcement and audit of employee authorization to work, it’s always worth taking a few moments to review the basics of Form I-9. Every employer must have a Form I-9 for every employee. While the form itself is not complicated, accuracy and process counts to ensure that you’re prepared for an audit.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Substance Abuse Trends Reported by Quest Diagnostics
U.S. General Workforce drug positivity hits 16-Year High in 2019. Quest Diagnostics—a trusted A-Check drug screening partner and leading provider of diagnostic services—recently released their Drug Testing Index™ analysis of more than nine million workplace drug test results. As Quest Diagnostics reports, even prior to COVID-19, workplace drug positivity rates were trending in the wrong direction. Now, with many Americans under higher stress levels as they continue to juggle remote work schedules, childcare and homeschool responsibilities, and even frustration from ongoing social isolation, it stands to reason that there may have been negative impact on general health and well-being during these recent months.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX AND CRIMINAL HISTORY DISCLOSURE

Hawaii
Now effective, Hawaii has amended its Ban the Box law, offering protections for individuals with old and/or relatively minor conviction records. The law prevents most private sector employers from considering felony convictions older than seven years, and misdemeanor convictions older than five years. However, an employer making employment decisions may inquire about and consider an individual’s criminal conviction record, provided the conviction in question has a logical relationship to the position’s duties.
READ MORE

South Carolina
In other Ban the Box news, the city of North Augusta, SC, is removing a question about criminal history from job applications for city positions. This change won’t alter the hiring process at all; it will simply remove the question from upcoming applications.
READ MORE

A Ban the Box Overview
36 states and 150+ municipalities have Ban the Box laws to prohibit employers from asking about criminal history on job applications. This article quickly details a number of the most recent changes and updates in Hawaii, California, and St. Louis, Missouri.
READ MORE

SALARY HISTORY

Maryland
Now effective as of October 1, 2020, there are more boxes to ban from Maryland employment applications. Maryland prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s current or prior pay. This new law will 1) prohibit employers from requesting or relying on job applicants’ prior pay history to make decisions about employment or initial pay in most circumstances; and 2) require an employer to provide an applicant, upon request, with the wage range for the job applied for. The new law amends Maryland’s existing Equal Pay for Equal Work (EWEW) law, and will apply to all private, state, and local government employers in Maryland.
READ MORE

A Look at Salary History Bans Already in Place
State and local governments are increasingly adopting legislation to prohibit employers from requesting salary history from job applicants. For your reference, here’s a great running list of states and localities that have legislation in place.
READ MORE

COVID-19

Updated COVID-19 Guidance from the EEOC
While we mentioned this in last month’s email, it’s worth repeating, especially as many organizations continue to make cautious, careful decisions about the balance between remote and in-office workforces.

The EEOC recently updated guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Coronavirus pandemic. This new information expands their prior guidance on how the ADA applies to the current pandemic. In a question and answer form, this guidance covers a number of important issues surrounding COVID-19 and the workplace, including: the right for an employer to ask employees entering the office if they have COVID-19 symptoms, the right for an employer to report employees with COVID-19 or associated symptoms to appropriate personnel, the right for an employer to require a temperature check, and much more.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

A Quick Look at Pre-Employment Credit Screening (From the Applicant Point of View)

If your organization runs pre-employment credit checks as part of your overall screening program, let’s ask you to put on your “applicant hat” for this blog entry. We’ll take a minute to look at credit checks from the applicant angle. And more importantly, to see what they face when applying for positions while also battling—or recovering from—lackluster credit histories.

So, just how many companies run pre-employment credit checks?

You might be surprised to know that a good percentage of companies make it common practice to run credit checks, especially for job positions handling money and/or sensitive, personal information. In fact, many run credit checks as a predictor that if an applicant successfully manages their own money, it’s a sign that he or she will make good, ethical decisions in the workplace.

A 2018 HR.com survey of HR professionals reported that just over 30% of companies performed credit checks on at least some of their applicants, if not all. Of course, if you’re not already running credit checks, we always recommend you check with your legal resource to confirm any limitations in your area for doing so.

Let applicants know what information is available during a credit check.

Your applicant just dazzled you with an impressive interview. You think it could potentially be a great match, and hopefully for many years to come. You may even be considering a conditional job offer. Now, it’s time to share that you run a pre-employment credit check as part of your company’s overall background screening—and here come the questions. No worries, this is what you do best. Take a moment to let them know what is, and isn’t, part of the credit check:

  • First, and probably most important to your applicant: the credit check doesn’t include a credit score. The credit score isn’t provided as part of a pre-employment credit check.
  • The report will show open accounts (without actual account numbers), payment history, outstanding balances, and open credit amounts. You’ll also have access to information about accounts in collections, negative payment history, and credit to balance limits ratio—unfortunately known as red flag items that illustrate credit issues.
  • The credit check is known as a soft hit, which will have no impact on the applicant’s credit score. Hard hits, like inquiries run for purposes of a loan offer or credit extension, can potentially impact a credit score.

Now, pretend you’re the applicant. How’s YOUR Credit?

Applicants may have asked you how they can improve their credit score. As an HR professional, it certainly helps to have a few key pieces of advice on hand. Or, perhaps this has you now thinking about your own credit history. Because who knows, perhaps someday you might be an applicant about to land your next dream job!

  • Top Tip: Regularly review your credit report for inaccurate information. You may already know, but it bears repeating that you can obtain a free credit report from all three credit bureaus at annualcreditreport.com. You’re entitled to one free report per year from each bureau (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). If you spread that out across the year, it would mean you could go to one of the three bureaus every four months for your report.  
  • If you find inaccurate information, it is critical to immediately dispute it with the credit bureaus. Keep in mind that applicants finding inaccurate information may also reach out before a credit check to let you know they are currently disputing information. And, while it may be a little “too much information,” know that applicants may let you know their credit troubles are the result of a particular hardship—like a divorce, family death, or other life event.

The bottom line, pre-employment credit checks can be a valuable tool to understand your applicants’ approach to money management, as well as their potential to make appropriate decisions in their roles within your organization. As an HR professional, it’s also a great opportunity to help ensure you’re making informed employment decisions for the safety and well-being of your organization.

Compliance Clips for October 2020

CONSUMER REPORTING

Helpful Compliance Guidance for End Users of Consumer Reports
You may already know that the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the primary legislation regulating the procurement and use of a consumer report (a background screening report from A-Check Global, for example). Adding even more complexity to compliance focus—regulatory compliance for domestic consumer reporting also includes state and jurisdiction consumer reporting laws with additional procedures and disclosures. This topic can become very confusing, very quickly. Please know we’re always here to help. A-Check developed a handy checklist to help you gauge your organization’s current level of regulatory compliance for the end use of consumer reports in the hiring process.
READ MORE

I-9 AND E-VERIFY

Extension: Form I-9 and Requirements in response to COVID-19
An additional update is available in light of ongoing COVID-19 efforts. The in-person requirement for the Form I-9 is temporarily suspended if your company is closed or taking other precautions due to COVID-19. The general rule is that an employer must undertake a physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee for section 2 purposes.

UPDATE: Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, it has been announced that remote I-9 document review has been extended for another 60 days; the expiration date for these accommodations is now November 19, 2020.

The government has suspended the in-person and physical inspection of the document(s) presented by the employee when completing the Form I-9. During this time, an employer can view the document(s) presented by the employee via Zoom or Skype, for example.
READ MORE

Florida
The Florida Governor signed a new E-Verify law. Beginning January 1, 2021, Florida public employers, private contractors, and subcontractors, must register with and use E-Verify to confirm work eligibility of new hires.
READ MORE

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING

Arizona
A measure to legalize marijuana in Arizona officially qualified for the November General Election ballot as Prop. 207. Under the measure, adults could possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. The initiative also contains several restorative justice provisions such as allowing individuals with prior marijuana convictions to petition the courts for expungement. We’ll keep an eye on this one and report back to you after the elections.
READ MORE

Substance Abuse Trends Reported by Quest Diagnostics
U.S. General Workforce drug positivity hits 16-Year High in 2019. Quest Diagnostics—a trusted A-Check drug screening partner and leading provider of diagnostic services—recently released their Drug Testing Index™ analysis of more than nine million workplace drug test results. As Quest Diagnostics reports, even prior to COVID-19, workplace drug positivity rates were trending in the wrong direction. Now, with many Americans under higher stress levels as they continue to juggle remote work schedules, childcare and homeschool responsibilities, and even frustration from ongoing social isolation, it stands to reason that there may have been negative impact on general health and well-being during these recent months.
READ MORE

AS A REMINDER: At A-Check, we’re happy to help implement a drug screening program that meets your evolving needs—or make adjustments to the program you’re already running with us. Just give us a call at 877-345-2021 and ask to speak with someone on your Client Relations team.

BAN THE BOX AND CRIMINAL HISTORY DISCLOSURE

Hawaii
Effective September 15, 2020, Hawaii amends its Ban the Box law to fortify protections for individuals with old and/or relatively minor conviction records. The law prevents most private sector employers from considering felony convictions older than seven years, and misdemeanor convictions older than five years. However, an employer making employment decisions may inquire about and consider an individual’s criminal conviction record, provided the conviction in question has a logical relationship to the position’s duties.
READ MORE

North Carolina
State jobs will be more open to people with criminal records, due to a new executive order signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Starting in November, 2020, the state will no longer ask prospective job applicants to check a box saying whether they have a criminal record. This law will apply only to state government jobs, not private companies or local governments. The elimination of that question on job applications has been a longtime goal of Ban the Box supporters in North Carolina.
READ MORE

SALARY HISTORY

Maryland
Maryland prohibits employers from relying on job applicants’ prior pay. The new salary history ban and wage range notice requirement takes effect October 1, 2020. This new law will 1) prohibit employers from requesting or relying on job applicants’ prior pay history to make decisions about employment or initial pay in most circumstances; and 2) require an employer to provide an applicant, upon request, with the wage range for the job applied for. The new law amends Maryland’s existing Equal Pay for Equal Work (EWEW) law, and will apply to all private, state, and local government employers in Maryland.
READ MORE

A Look at Salary History Bans Already in Place
State and local governments are increasingly adopting legislation to prohibit employers from requesting salary history from job applicants. For your reference, here’s a great running list of states and localities that have legislation in place.
READ MORE

COVID-19

Updated COVID-19 Guidance from the EEOC
The EEOC recently updated guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Coronavirus pandemic. This new information expands their prior guidance on how the ADA applies to the current pandemic. In a question and answer form, this guidance covers a number of important issues surrounding COVID-19 and the workplace, including: the right for an employer to ask employees entering the office if they have COVID-19 symptoms, the right for an employer to report employees with COVID-19 or associated symptoms to appropriate personnel, the right for an employer to require a temperature check, and much more.
READ MORE

Questions? We’re here to help!

U.S. General Workforce Drug Positivity hits 16-Year High in 2019

Quest Diagnostics—a trusted A-Check drug screening partner and leading provider of diagnostic services—recently released their Drug Testing Index™ analysis of more than nine million workplace drug test results. According to their findings, the rate of workforce drug positivity hit a 16-year high in 2019. For example, positivity rates in the combined U.S. workforce increased in urine drug tests, climbing to 4.5%, the highest level since 2003—and more than 28% percent higher than the thirty-year low of 3.5% recorded between 2010 and 2012.

Here are a few key index findings from Quest:

  • Marijuana positivity continues to top the list of most commonly detected substances across all U.S. workforce categories, reaching 3.1% in 2019. This of course is led by positivity in recreational use states. And we hear you . . . it’s hard enough keeping track of evolving legalization legislation. Here’s a website with comprehensive information that may be a good resource in addition to our own compliance updates each month.
  • Specific regions of the United States, particularly the West and Midwest, experienced increases in positivity for cocaine and methamphetamine in 2019. Positivity increased to as high as 0.28% in these areas. 
  • Methamphetamine positivity continues to increase across multiple specimen types. General U.S. workforce categories reached positivity a positivity rate of 0.19% in 2019, when analyzing results from urine, hair, and oral fluid testing.
  • When looking across classifications based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the Retail Trade category has been identified by Quest as holding the top spot for industry-specific positivity since 2015.
  • And, since 2015, the post-accident positivity rate has increased each year in the general U.S. workforce, reaching 9.1% in 2019.
  • More Quest insight can be found online within their Drug Testing Index.

Will COVID-19 prove to further these trends?

As Quest Diagnostics reports, even prior to COVID-19, workplace drug positivity rates were trending in the wrong direction. Now, with many Americans under higher stress levels as they continue to juggle remote work schedules, childcare and homeschool responsibilities, and even frustration from ongoing social isolation, it stands to reason that there may have been negative impact on general health and well-being during these recent months.

This combination of external forces can very easily lead to worsening heath issues and the opportunity to perhaps abuse alcohol or drugs—even among those who would not normally be inclined to do so. It’s not simply an issue of those at risk relapsing into prior addictive behavior.

Let’s work together for the continued safety of your workplace

Based on the potential for abuse due to COVID-19 related anxiety and strain, it is critical to continue your focus on workplace safety, as well as all employee health concerns.

Your company may be operating with a remote workforce, and you may be in the fortunate position to welcome new employees to the team over the coming weeks and months. Screening employees for substance abuse before they begin working for you—or if you have begun to see sharp declines in remote productivity among current employees—can greatly help ensure you’re doing all you can to keep a safe workplace and healthy, productive team members.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your options, what you currently might have in place, or to help you build an effective, compliant drug screening program for your company.