Informed Employer: The Hazy Impact of Marijuana Legalization on the Workplace Informed Employer: The Hazy Impact of Marijuana Legalization on the Workplace

Informed Employer: The Hazy Impact of Marijuana Legalization on the Workplace

Ice Miller website

Health Insurance Deadline Now Looms for Small Business Owners
It's crunch time for thousands of small business owners who must comply with requirements of the health care law for the first time. Companies with 50 to 99 full-time employees must offer affordable insurance to employees and their dependents starting Jan. 1, and they must also file tax forms with the government by Jan. 31 detailing the cost of their coverage and the names and Social Security numbers of employees and their dependents.
(Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2015-10-25) Read the full article
EEOC Seeks to Develop Wellness Program Policies in Line with GINA
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is moving forward with guidelines for corporate wellness plans that cover requests for family medical history in exchange for plan incentives. The agency wants to develop policies that bring wellness plan incentives (and penalties) in line with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
(Source: BenefitsPro, 2015-10-30) Read the full article
CFPB Fines Employment Background Screening Companies $12.5M
Financial regulators are forcing two of the largest employment background screening companies to pay $12.5 million in fines and relief payments for allegedly reporting inaccurate information about job applicants. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said General Information Services and its affiliate,, unlawfully included civil suit and civil judgment information from more than seven years ago in reports they provided to prospective employers.
(Source: The Hill, 2015-10-29) Read the full article
Report Finds More Firms Using 'Captives' to Reduce Benefits Costs
A report from global professional services company Towers Watson highlights the trend toward large U.S. firms creating "captives," that is, financing vehicles designed to reduce their employee benefits costs. The reasons for this trend are obvious, as constantly increasing employee benefits costs (especially health care) have been eating into corporate profits for some time.
(Source: Value Walk, 2015-10-30) Read the full article
Data Show SHOP Exchange Not Attracting Small Businesses
After nearly two years in operation and millions of dollars spent in development, the small business health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act is struggling to catch on. Nationally, about 85,000 people, from 11,000 small businesses, have coverage through the online marketplace known as the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, according to the latest federal data.
(Source: USA Today, 2015-10-31) Read the full article
Government to Keep 401(k) Limit at $18,000 in 2016
Hoping to up your retirement savings next year? You won't get much help from the government. The maximum amount of money you can sock away in your 401(k) in 2016 will be the same as this year: $18,000.
(Source:, 2015-10-22) Read the full article
Senators Introduce Legislation to Streamline H-2B Program
A bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation to help seasonal employees better understand the visa program that allows them to work in the U.S. The bipartisan legislation would streamline the H-2B program to eliminate ambiguities and establish clear regulations for employers hiring H-2B workers.
(Source: WBOC, 2015-10-30) Read the full article
Bill Would Allow Employers to Help Workers Pay Off Student Loans
Congressman Rodney Davis introduced the "Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act." If passed, the legislation would allow employers to help graduates repay their student loans, and employers then would get a tax break.
(Source:, 2015-10-30) Read the full article
Obama Issues Order to Reduce Hiring Bias Against Former Convicts
President Obama is announcing a new order to reduce potential discrimination against former convicts in the hiring process for federal government employees. It is a step toward what many criminal justice reformers call "ban the box" -- the effort to eliminate requirements that job applicants check a box on their applications if they have a criminal record.
(Source:, 2015-11-02) Read the full article
The Hazy Impact of Marijuana Legalization on the Workplace
Angela Courtwright

The use of marijuana for any purpose is illegal under Federal law. However, approximately half of the states have enacted laws that legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Marijuana may also be used for recreational purposes in four states. Voters in Ohio voted yesterday against legalizing recreational and medical marijuana but the issue is expected to be renewed in another form within the next few years. Several other states are also expected to have similar initiatives on their ballots in 2016.

How does this legalization affect employees in the workplace? As seen below, this isn’t an easy question to answer and it is essential that employers consult with legal professionals to determine the most appropriate way to navigate through the haze in order to maintain a safe workplace.

Drug-Free Workplace

Many employers have policies in place prohibiting the use of alcohol and illegal drugs at work. In fact, federal contractors are required to maintain a drug-free workplace. What impact does this new legislation have, if any, on drug-free workplace policies? Can employers continue to prohibit the possession and use of marijuana at work? The answer to this question is easy if the employer is federally funded or has federal contracts of at least $100,000: The employer must abide by the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. Any use of a controlled substance at work, including marijuana, must be prohibited.

Read the full article here.


More Proposed Changes Affecting Foreign Students on STEM OPT

The Department of Homeland Security has recently published a proposed rule affecting F-1 foreign student employment with the comment period ending November 18, 2015. This timeline should allow foreign students working pursuant to STEM extensions of their Optional Practical Training to remain employment authorized beyond the February 12, 2016 deadline set by a federal district judge in Washington D.C. See our prior article here for additional background on the lawsuit leading to these proposed changes and STEM OPT work permission generally.

The DHS proposed rule calls for several important changes to the current program for foreign student employees. Read them and the full article here.


View Full Site View Mobile Optimized