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Philadelphia Says No to Pre-Employment Drug Screenings for Most Employers

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The Philadelphia City Council passed a new ordinance prohibiting employers from conducting pre-hire marijuana testing on April 22, 2021. Mayor Jim Kenney signed the ordinance into law on April 28, 2021.  The ordinance takes effect on January 1, 2022.

As of January 1, 2022, it will be unlawful for employers and employment agencies to require prospective employees to undergo pre-hire marijuana screening as a condition of employment in many jobs. The ordinance does not limit an employer’s ability to conduct marijuana screenings on current employees.

As with any ordinance or rule, there are exceptions where employers may submit prospective employees to a pre-hire marijuana examination:

  • Positions requiring Commercial Drivers’ Licenses
  • Law Enforcement
  • Positions involving care of the vulnerable—medical patients, the disabled, and the care/supervision of children
  • Positions with a significant impact on the health or safety of fellow employees or members of the public

There is no present guidance on what position or job function has the propensity to “impact the health or safety of fellow employees or members of the public.” The ordinance is also inapplicable to the following three scenarios: (1) a position where a federal or state statute or regulation requires pre-screening; (2) a federal government contract or grant requires pre-screening; and (3) where the employer is a party to a Collective Bargaining Agreement that already covers pre-employment marijuana or drug screen.

Additional regulations are forthcoming. We are monitoring the progress of the ordinance and the regulations to come.