June 2021 Alabama HR Legal Updates

Medical Marijuana Law Enacted in Alabama

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Alabama

What happened?
On May 17, 2021, Governor Ivey passed SB 46.

What are the details?
SB 46 was passed on May 17, 2021 and made effective immediately. The law permits the use of medical cannabis to treat certain medical conditions. The law does not permit the use of medical cannabis by smoking/vaping or by consuming food products as well as not permitting the recreational use of marijuana.

The law does also contain favorable items for employers:

  • Employers are not required to allow or accommodate the use of medical cannabis or modify working conditions for employees who in the use.
  • Employers are not prohibited from;
    • Refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining or taking an adverse employment action against an individual with respect to hiring, discharging, tenure, terms, conditions or privileges of employment as a result, in whole or in part, of that individual’s use of medical cannabis, regardless of the individual’s impairment or lack of impairment resulting from the use of medical cannabis.
    • Establishing or enforcing a drug testing policy, including, but not limited to, a policy that prohibits the use of medical cannabis in the workplace or from implementing a drug-free workforce program established in connection with the state workers’ compensation premium discount law.
    • Adopting an employment policy requiring its employees to notify the employee if an employee possesses a medical cannabis card.
  • The law does not interfere with, impair, or impede, any federal restrictions on employment, including, but not limited to, regulations adopted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • The law does not permit, authorize, or establish any individual’s right to commence or undertake any legal action against an employer for refusing to hire, discharging, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment due to the individual’s use of medical cannabis.
  • The law does not require a government medical assistance program, employer, property and casualty insurer, or private health insurer to reimburse an individual for costs associated with the use of medical cannabis.
  • The law does not affect, alter, or otherwise impact the workers’ compensation premium discount available to employers who establish a drug-free workplace policy certified by the state’s workers’ compensation premium discount law.
  • The law does not affect, alter, or otherwise impact an employer’s right to deny, or establish legal defenses to, the payment of workers’ compensation benefits to an employee on the basis of a positive drug test or refusal to submit or to cooperate with a drug test, as provided in the state workers’ compensation premium discount law.
  • An individual who is discharged from employment because of that individual’s use of medical cannabis, or refusal to submit to or cooperate with a drug test, shall be legally conclusively presumed to have been discharged for misconduct if the condition of the workers’ compensation premium discount law are met.

The bill can be read here.

Articles written on the new bill can be found here and here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the information provided and ensure they are in compliance with their workplace policies.

August 2020 Alabama HR Legal Updates

Alabama Department of Labor Announces New Documentation Requirement and Enforcement Initiative

What happened?
The Alabama Department of Labor (AL DOL) recently announced two new changes affecting employers:

  • By emergency rule adopted July 10, 2020, the AL DOL now requires all employers to provide a notice to employees regarding unemployment benefits at the time of separation; and
  • The AL DOL announced on its website that it has begun enforcing employers’ new-hire reporting obligations.

What are the details?
The emergency rule adopted July 10, 2020, now requires all employers to provide a notice to employees regarding unemployment benefits at the time of separation. This notice requirement took effect immediately. Within the emergency rule, the AL DOL provided sample notice language that can be used as a safe harbor for compliance. The required notice may be made by letter, email, text message, or flyer.

The AL DOL is currently working to amend the Administrative Code to incorporate this new notice requirement. Employers should be aware of this new notice obligation and update their employment separation practices to include distributing the required notice at the time of separation.

Additionally, the AL DOL announced on its website that it has begun enforcing employers’ new-hire reporting obligations. Alabama law requires employers to report all new hires to the AL DOL. These new- hire obligations include reporting recalled employees. In its announcement, the AL DOL stated that employers should ensure that all new hires and recalled employees for the past 12 months be properly reported. The announcement on the AL DOL website not only marks the start of the DOL enforcing new hire reporting obligations but also warns employers of the consequences. Failure to report new hires and recalled employees may result in a statutory penalty. As a reminder, as of May 1, 2008, employers with five or more employees must report new hires through Alabama’s New Hire Electronic Filing System.

The Emergency rule from July 10, 2020 can be found here.

The new warning regarding new hire filings is found at the top of this webpage.

What do employers need to do?
Alabama employers should review their new hire practices to ensure that they are correctly submitting their required documents and ensure that they provide a notice to employees regarding unemployment benefits at the time of separation.