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Calif. Workers Protected from Termination for Off-the-Clock Marijuana Use


California Governor Gavin Newson signed into law on Sept. 18 a new law that prohibits employers from terminating employees for off-the-clock marijuana use.

Ever since the state approved recreational marijuana legalization in 2016, legal questions about how marijuana would affect workers’ rights were abundant. Legalization meant that an employee could personally purchase and use recreational marijuana, but their employer could reprimand the employee if they failed a drug test for marijuana.

Now, employers can neither fire nor fail to hire or make any other employment decisions about an employee based on positive drug screening for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites. Such metabolites exist in CBD products or as the remnants of THC, a psychoactive chemical, after the body has processed it. If THC is found in an employee’s sample, it’s regarded as an indication of the employee’s impairment at work – a condition that the new law doesn’t protect.

There are, however, exceptions for workers in building and construction. These employees, along with those in any job that requires a federal background clearance, can still face termination for any kind of marijuana use.

How to Protect Yourself from Cannabis Discrimination

Employers who aren’t aware of this new law may still discriminate against employees who use marijuana on their personal time.

That said, here are some tips to protect yourself at work:

  • Don’t consume marijuana before your shift begins
  • If you do consume marijuana at any time before going to work, use a product that lacks THC
  • Avoid consuming an edible marijuana product that may release THC while you’re at work
  • Before going to work, avoid using a high-percentage THC product that may take several hours for your body to metabolize

If your employer terminates or otherwise reprimands you for your marijuana use off the clock, you may be able to sue for damages under this new protection. Our attorneys at K2 Employment Law can help.

For more information about protecting your right to use marijuana off the clock, contact our legal team today.