E-Alert: Arkansas Medical Marijuana and CDC Vaccine Guidance
Medical Marijuana: Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge recently issued an Opinion letter relating to the ability of employers to designate certain job positions as “Safety Sensitive” under Arkansas law. Amendment 98, which amended the Arkansas Constitution, lists some job duties as “affecting health or safety” which allows employers to restrict persons using medical marijuana from those positions. One provision has, to this point, created some confusion as written, which includes jobs that “work with confidential information or documents pertaining to criminal investigations.”
As written, some employers were not sure that they could classify an employee who worked with “confidential information” as working in a safety-sensitive position if the information did not pertain to criminal investigations. The AG Opinion specifically found that the disjunctive use of “or” does not limit the job designation to only being related to criminal investigation information. Thus, job duties working with confidential information may be properly classified as “safety sensitive” in compliance with current laws even if the information does not pertain to criminal investigations. A copy of the AG Opinion can be found here: https://ag-opinions.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2021-031.pdf.
As a reminder, Arkansas law requires that safety-sensitive jobs be designated in writing in order to limit the hiring of medical marijuana consumers. Now is a very good time to review your drug testing, handbook, or job descriptions relating to medical marijuana rights in the workplace.
CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Update: The CDC has not previously taken a firm position with a recommendation for pregnant mothers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Employers have been forced to decide whether to provide an accommodation from any mandatory vaccine policy for pregnant mothers even if no underlying health condition existed (triggering ADA exemption requirements). The CDC has not officially recommended vaccines for pregnant mothers, so no separate exemption is required for that classification of worker. However, employers should be careful to comply with the ADA and Pregnancy Discrimination Act whenever considering a requested accommodation by a pregnant employee.
Contact an Attorney with our Firm for more information on either of these important issues.