DC Council passes drug testing protections for employees

Failed a drug test in D.C.? It may no longer mean you’ll be out of a job or prevented from being hired for a new one.

The D.C. Council unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that prohibits private employers and city agencies from refusing to hire a potential employee or fire, suspend or in any way penalize current workers for testing positive on a cannabis drug test or for their use of marijuana outside of work.

The bill, introduced by Ward 8 Council member Trayon White earlier this year, doesn’t protect all employees in the city.

It excludes federal and D.C. court system workers or those in safety sensitive jobs such as police and security officers, operators of heavy machinery, medical professionals and people whose job it is to take care of “individuals who are unable to care for themselves and who reside in an institutional or custodial environment.”

An employee who is caught using, possessing, selling or growing cannabis on the job is not protected by the bill either.

D.C. follows several other states who have recently loosened drug testing policies.

A recent nationwide survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only 16% of private companies are still drug testing prospective hires.

The possession of small amounts of marijuana in the District became legal in 2015.

Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin is an anchor/reporter for WTOP. She started her career in New York City as a local TV reporter and has since covered foreign affairs and national politics as a Washington correspondent. She also anchored a nightly news show for an international network.

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