Screening News Update: THC Tea, Legal Pot in NY, and Another Form I-9 Extension

Screening News Update: THC Tea, Legal Pot in NY, and Another Form I-9 Extension

By Jennifer Gladstone

Tea drinkers sue after failing drug tests, New York legalizes recreational marijuana, and Form I-9 extensions are starting to raise legal questions. It’s all in today’s EBI Screening News Update.

Tea With THC?

Tea lovers have filed a class action lawsuit against a multi-level marketing company claiming its Raspberry Lemonade Instant Tea caused them to fail company drug tests, and in some cases, lose their jobs. 

Total Life Changes sells an assortment of detox teas and vitamin supplements. Many of the teas contain hemp extract. This particular flavor says it has 0.0% THC right on the front of the package. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. 

According to the suit, consumers say they were misled into spending nearly $60 for a package of the tea. Several lost their jobs, and one parolee failed a court-ordered urine test after drinking the tea. 

The named plaintiff says she read the label and trusted it, but after losing her job, she used an at-home kit to test the tea and found it came back positive for THC.

New Laws in NY

New York lawmakers have been busy over the last couple of weeks passing laws that affect employers. 

First, after several failed attempts, the state finally legalized recreational marijuana. Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly signed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act into law and tweeted that it was a historic day for his state. 

The new law automatically expunges any previous marijuana convictions for things that would now be legal, including the possession of up to 3 ounces of cannabis and growing up to 6 plants in your home. 

Legalization is expected to pump up to $350 million dollars into the state’s budget every year, but it doesn’t mean people can buy it right away. It’s still going to take time to create the needed infrastructure, and experts say it will be at least 12-18 months before the recreational market is up and running. 

Another new law in the Empire State requires both public and private employers to give their teams paid time off to get their COVID-19 vaccines. The newly signed measure requires employers to pay an employee’s full hourly rate for up to 4 hours for each dose. 

The law prohibits employers from taking this time out of sick leave or any other paid leave time.

Form I-9 Extension… Again

If you’ve been taking advantage of the Form I-9 verification extension, you have at least another 60 days to check documents virtually. 

On March 31st, just a couple of hours before the order expired, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced another extension until May 31st

There are a few changes in the new guidance. 

For the past year, the exemption has only applied to companies that are 100% virtual. The new extension walks that back a bit, acknowledging that there may be IT or security personnel on site, or companies may be slowly bringing people back. Neither situation will trigger the in-person requirement that would demand all documents for every new hire since COVID-19 began be reviewed in person within 3 days. 

The government’s exact wording has worried employers because of that 3-day rule – especially since they have waited until the last minute to issue extensions. Now that we are more than a year into these remote hires, many legal experts are starting to question if that policy is realistic. But as of now, there has been no clarification from USCIS. 

We’ll tell you about it if and when it happens. 

Screening News Network

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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