Screening News Update: College COVID Plans, Hawaii Screening Issue, and Justice Questions Marijuana Laws

Screening News Update: College COVID Plans, Hawaii Screening Issue, and Justice Questions Marijuana Laws

By Jennifer Gladstone

College students may have to pay a fine if they don’t want the COVID-19 vaccine, Hawaii needs to toughen up some background checks, and a member of SCOTUS speaks out on marijuana laws. It’s all in today’s EBI Screening News Update.

Higher Ed Vaccine Plans

While employers across the country continue to wrestle with the question of whether they should require all employees to be vaccinated, college campuses are not wasting any time.

Rutgers University in New Jersey was the first to announce that every student planning to be on campus this fall must have proof that they received the vaccine. Hundreds of schools have since followed suit. You can see the very long list here.

Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, however, has decided to go in a completely different direction. The private liberal arts college recently informed students that anyone who is not vaccinated will have to pay an additional $1,500 each semester. The fee will be used to cover the cost of mandatory weekly testing. Those who don’t have the vaccine will also have to wear masks and continue to keep their distance from other students.

Many employers are already requiring vaccines for people to come back to work including hospitals, several airlines, Saks Fifth Avenue, and even the Broadway production of Hamilton. Many are offering bonuses and perks for getting vaccinated; others are saying no vaccine, no work.

Weak Background Check Hands Children to Convicted Murderer

When Justin Boulay applied for a job with Hawaii’s Child Welfare Services, they did a background check. But it was only a local check, and it missed the fact that Boulay had served 12 years in prison for murdering his girlfriend while they were students at Eastern Illinois University.

Some states limit how long felonies such as murder can be reported – Illinois is not one of them. That means, had the agency conducted a nationwide background search they could have discovered the conviction before giving Boulay a job working with vulnerable women and children.

At this point, more extensive background checks are reserved only for those applying for positions that require firearms.

Advocates for domestic violence victims are now calling for the practice to be changed.

Marijuana Legalization Continues

Adult use of marijuana is now legal in Connecticut. This is the 19th state to decriminalize the drug. As of July 1st, adults will be allowed to have up to an ounce-and-a-half of pot, and retail sales are expected to begin by the spring of 2022.

The new law, which local lawmakers say is the most comprehensive and best cannabis legalization bill in the country, expunges past criminal convictions of less than 4 ounces and prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against workers for showing marijuana use on drug tests. It also caps the amount of THC in most products and requires all retailers to provide access to low-THC and high-CBD products.

While we’ve seen efforts starting in Congress to decriminalize marijuana on a national level, this week a member of the Supreme Court weighed in on the issue. Clarence Thomas, one of the most conservative judges on the court, issued a statement that said federal marijuana laws may no longer make sense. He specifically pointed to the fact that the drug is illegal under federal law, yet Congress has repeatedly prohibited the Justice Department from enforcing that law.

This doesn’t do anything to move national legalization forward, but it is definitely an interesting development.

About the Author

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone

Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.

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