Screening News Weekly Wrap: May 15th, 2020

About 5 min

Screening News Weekly Wrap: May 15th, 2020

It’s a weird time for workplaces all over the country. Employers in New York City now have to change their drug testing polices, in Texas, they are adjusting unemployment rules, and in Ohio, one judge is pushing the limits to keep the wheels of justice moving along. It’s all in our EBI Screening News Weekly Wrap.


NYC Says NO to Pre-Employment Pot Screening

If you are hiring in New York City, you might have to take marijuana out of your pre-employment drug testing panel. A new City Council law went into effect on May 10th that essentially deems pre-employment marijuana testing to be an “unlawful discriminatory practice.”

The process took an entire year, from passage to implementation, but now that the law is in effect, it is important for employers to make the necessary adjustments.  

Of course, there are some positions that are exempt from the new rule.

They include:

  • Law enforcement and other safety-related positions
  • Commercial driver’s license holders
  • Those working in childcare, medicine or with vulnerable populations
  • Positions requiring compliance with the city’s building code
  • Some federal contractors
  • Anyone covered under a collective bargaining agreement that requires drug testing

If you are an EBI client with questions about how to proceed, please email for help.

Texas Protects Unemployment Benefits

States are starting to open up again, and that means businesses need their workers back. While that’s welcome news to some, others are not so comfortable about getting back out there just yet.

With national jobless rates soaring, millions are receiving unemployment benefits. Most unemployment laws require recipients to prove that they are out of work through no fault of their own, which is easy when your state is under a stay-at-home order. But those laws also prohibit recipients from receiving further benefits if they turn down an appropriate job offer.

That has become a sticky point during the pandemic.

What happens if you have, for example, an elderly family member living in your home and you feel the risk of exposing them to COVID-19 is just too great? Or, maybe you have children at home with no childcare, school, or camp, which makes accepting a job outside the home impossible?

There are many reasons why people may want to work but feel they can’t yet.

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has announced a way to help. TWC released new guidelines that allow workers to keep their unemployment benefits if they refuse suitable work for COVID-19 related reason.

These new rules do not mean employers have to hold jobs for those who refuse to come back – regardless of the reason. If furloughed employees are called back and refuse, employers in Texas will be allowed to hire replacements. The only exceptions are for workers on paid sick or family leave due to COVID-19.

One Step Forward… Two Steps Back

A judge in Ashland County, Ohio is determined to keep his court running despite COVID-19. For weeks he has been trying to hold a jury trial for a guy accused of child endangerment.

It’s believed to be the first jury trial in the nation during COVID-19, and so far, it’s been a mess.

A couple of weeks ago, despite the state’s stay-at-home orders, Ashland County Common Pleas Court Judge Ronald Forsthoefel ordered jury selection to start for the trial of Seth Whited. In an effort to postpone, Whited’s defense attorney claimed they both were exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. The judge plowed forward. During jury selection the defendant fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. He and his attorney both tested negative for the virus.

The judge ordered everyone back to court a few days later despite the hospital telling the men to self-quarantine for six days. Now, the defense attorney is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to stop the judge from continuing the trial.

In his filing he said social-distancing guidelines make it nearly impossible for his client to get a fair trial. His list of problems include things like not being able to confer privately with his client while sitting six feet apart, not being able to approach witnesses with documents, and not being able to read juror’s faces because they are wearing masks.

While this is a courtroom situation, not an office, it is a good reminder to all employers that there will be many unexpected hurdles and unknowns as we start re-opening. It’s a good time to start thinking about every step in your workday to try to find solutions before bringing everyone back.

Check out our COVID-19 resources page for help.

Stay up-to-date on Employment Laws & Regulations with EBI's Screening News Network.