Are you a business owner in Oklahoma? Are you up to date on Oklahoma’s newest Marijuana laws? Did you know that an amendment to the Oklahoma Marijuana law goes into effect TODAY?   

Don’t worry – CYB Human Resources is a Tulsa HR Company and we are here to help you navigate all the recent changes in Oklahoma law!  

After the passage of State Question 788, Oklahoma employers were left with many questions about how to handle the use of prescribed medical marijuana by their employees. The law originally provided a broad anti-discrimination provision for medical marijuana cardholders. But what about employees who work in dangerous occupations?

Business owners have been left unsure of what to do regarding medical marijuana use by employees in safety-sensitive positions. Should they allow these employees to continue in their role despite serious safety concerns? Or should employers risk violating the new state law by removing these employees from their roles by terminating them or transferring them to a lower-paying position? Even highly specialized employment attorneys had been unable to provide clear and definitive guidance on this issue up until now. The Unity Bill was signed into law on March 14th, 2019 and goes into effect TODAY – August 30th, 2019!

It allows employers to exempt these safety-sensitive positions from the same protections against discrimination for using medical marijuana. Simply put, employers can now refuse to hire applicants, discipline employees, or even terminate employees for positive marijuana tests (even if they hold a medical marijuana license) if they perform safety-sensitive job duties. The new law provides much-needed clarity on how to handle the difficult intersection of workplace safety and employees’ rights regarding medical marijuana. The new law also helps employers and Human Resources teams to be able to cultivate a true safety-first culture.   

What exactly are Safety-Sensitive positions? Do you have Safety-Sensitive roles in your organization?   

A Safety-Sensitive position is a job where the employee holding this position has the responsibility for his safety or other people’s safety. In such jobs, it is especially dangerous if the employee is using drugs or alcohol while on the jobs. According to the law, a safety-sensitive job is “any job that includes tasks or duties that the employer reasonably believes could affect the safety and health of the employee performing the task or others”. The Unity Bill then lines out specific examples of “safety-sensitive duties or tasks”.   

These are the tasks that the Unity Bill specifically mentions: 

  • The handling, packaging, processing, storage, disposal, or transport of hazardous materials 
  • Operating motor vehicles, other vehicles, equipment, machinery or power tools 
  • Repairing, maintaining or monitoring heavy equipment or manufacturing processes if a malfunction could result in injury or property damage 
  • Performing duties in the residential or commercial premises of a customer, supplier, or vendor 
  • Firefighting 
  • The operation, maintenance, or oversight of critical services infrastructure such as utility services (including but not limited to electric utilities, gas utilities, water utilities, power generation, and power distribution) 
  • the extraction, compression, processing, manufacturing, handling, packaging, storage, disposal, treatment or transport of potentially volatile, flammable, combustible materials, elements, chemicals or any other highly regulated component, 
  • Dispensing pharmaceuticals 
  • Carrying firearms 
  • Providing direct patient care or direct childcare services 

The Unity Bill also specifies that “this list is not exhaustive.” There could be other positions which could qualify as safety-sensitive not listed in the Unity Bill.   

CYB recommends doing a complete Job Description Audit and analyzing the specific positions at your organization considering the safety-sensitive job duties listed above. You can then specify which positions or jobs you have that are safety-sensitive and which are not. CYB recommends adding a section on each of your Job Descriptions indicating that the role is a Safety-Sensitive role and that your company will follow all state laws accordingly. This way you will be prepared once an issue comes up and be ready to handle it. You will already know immediately if the position qualifies as safety-sensitive or not. If you need assistance with your Job Description Audit, call us! We are a Tulsa HR Company that provides expertise on matters just like this.   

As the best Tulsa HR Company, we also recommend that all companies review and update their drug testing policy and procedures. Your drug testing policy should be consistent with the new law and give you the right to take disciplinary action involving marijuana when permitted by law.

Do you know exactly what you will do when a license-holding employee or applicant fails a drug test due to marijuana use? Sometimes people using medical marijuana are disabled under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) which adds another layer of requirements for employees. Do you know how to respond when an employee who fails a drug test mentions having a disability? You do not want to be improvising in that situation.

Now is the time to create a detailed procedure to follow in these instances. Have a Tulsa HR company like CYB or legal counsel review your policy and Standard Operating Procedure ahead of time so that you are ready to take action if necessary, in response to marijuana use in the workplace.   

Lastly, we recommend that all companies update their employee handbooks to include the newly updated marijuana regulations including specifications about safety-sensitive roles in your organization. As a Tulsa HR Company, we would love to help you with this task.   

CYB, the best Tulsa HR company, can help you handle any of these issues. Let the HR experts be on-call to help you as issues arise and to create policies and procedures so that you are set up and prepared to handle things ahead of time.

Contact Google’s highest-rated Tulsa HR company for your free initial consultation. We provide a completely FREE Human Resources Assessment for your company to let you know of any areas that may be vulnerable to lawsuits, unemployment claims, and other costly HR mistakes. Call us today at 1-833-CYB-ASAP to make sure your bases are covered!