In what business leaders are condemning as another example of government overreach, the New York City Council approved a bill poised to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio that bars marijuana drug testing of job applicants.
With efforts at legalizing marijuana at the state level stalling out, the legislation was introduced to ease restrictions in New York City and passed Tuesday in a 40-4 vote, the New Tork Times reported.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, a Democrat, sponsored the bill which bans most pre-employment testing for the drug and will affect public and private employers.
“I’m proud that the city has taken action where the federal and the state government have stalled,” Williams said, according to the Times.
Companies with headquarters outside of the area could also be affected though Williams noted that he was unsure of the number of companies in the city will be subject to the new bill which is awaiting the signature of Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio.
He is also expected to sign another bill banning marijuana testing for those on probation and, according to a spokeswoman for the mayor, Olivia Lapeyrolerie, the administration is fully backing both measures.
“Through this legislation, there will still be a good number of folks who will no longer have to submit to testing just to get employment,” Dionna King, a policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance, told the Times.
In advocating for the bill, Williams actually told the Democrat-led City Council that private behavior should not have an effect on one’s ability to do a job.
“If you ingest weed in whatever manner a month ago, I’m not sure how that prevents you from doing your job now,” he said, according to ABC News.
The bill would not exempt every employee however, according to the Times:
The bill also carves out exemptions for certain safety-sensitive industries, including law enforcement and construction, as well as jobs that require supervising children or medical patients.
The bill also would not stop federal and state employees or contractors, who are not under the city’s jurisdiction, from being tested. Nor would it end the drug-test requirements imposed by the federal government on transportation workers like truck drivers and pilots.
Critics of the bill see it as a form of overreach and interference by the City Council.
“Private businesses should have the power to determine their own hiring practices — not just in deciding what skills and experience are relevant to certain positions, but also whether the use of a specific drug could have an adverse impact on a prospective employee’s ability to perform,” City Council Republican Leader Steven Matteo said in a statement.
“This is another instance where City Council is interfering in the relationship between employees and employers,” Kathryn S. Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a group representing business leaders, said.
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