Virginia ‘Bans the Box’ on Marijuana Possession

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer July 8, 2020
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​A new law took effect in Virginia on July 1 that prohibits employers from requiring job applicants to disclose information related to past criminal charges for simple marijuana possession. Simple possession refers to having a minimal amount of the substance for personal use without an intent to distribute it.

We've rounded up resources and articles from SHRM Online and other trusted outlets on the news.

Marijuana Decriminalization Trend

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed the law May 21 decriminalizing possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and ensured that convictions for simple marijuana possession will not be reflected on criminal records.  

Under the law, employers, schools, and state and local governments will be prohibited from requiring job applicants to disclose information related to simple marijuana possession charges in any application, interview or during any other part of the hiring, admission or licensing process.

Despite the fact that marijuana is illegal at the federal level, several U.S. states and cities have recently legalized or decriminalized marijuana and passed laws that mitigate the impact against job applicants that fail drug testing with positive results for marijuana.

(Virginia Mercury)

Full Legalization Next?

The lawmaker who introduced the decriminalization bill plans to sponsor legislation that would make simple possession legal in Virginia. Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, a Democrat representing parts of Prince William and Stafford counties, said she is championing the push to offset the racial disparities that exist in enforcement of drug possession laws.

(WTOP News)

Federal Ban-the-Box Law Passed

Congress passed legislation in 2019 prohibiting federal agencies and federal contractors from asking about job applicants' criminal history until after making a conditional employment offer.

The law is explained here, from when it passed a key committee.

(SHRM Online)

2020 Screening Trends to Know

The onset of the coronavirus doesn't change these predictions for the year: Compliance will be front and center for organizations that conduct pre-employment background checks; the number of class-action lawsuits brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act for technical errors will increase; more states and cities will pass ban-the-box laws, salary-history bans and marijuana screening limitations; and federal and state regulators will direct more scrutiny toward the use of artificial intelligence in the screening process.

(SHRM Online)

What Employers Need to Know About Ban-the-Box Laws

More than 150 cities and counties, as well as at least 35 states, have passed ban-the-box or fair chance laws for either public or private employers. The dilemma for HR and hiring managers lies in finding the balance between giving applicants with a criminal history a chance to be evaluated on their qualifications and being liable for negligent hiring.

(SHRM Online)

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