28 Mar The Coronavirus Outbreak Promises to Change Cannabis Employment Law
In the same way that the coronavirus has altered a number of areas of our lives — from telework options, to how we view our healthcare system, and even how we decide on travel to and from other countries — there is no question that it will also have a permanent effect on cannabis laws and regulations. This is in large part because of the spike that marijuana sales are experiencing at the moment. States like California have reportedly seen a 20% increase in sales as most Americans have been confined to their homes, and employers in the industry have been hiring new workers at rapid rates due to what appears to be an inevitable shift in the industry.
In addition, 33 states with legal medical and/or recreational markets have classified these businesses as “essential,” treating them essentially the same as pharmacies. We previously discussed some of the legal concerns that have come up for employers related to the coronavirus, especially for those companies that have employees who engage in international travel. However, as the outbreak has significantly progressed and the U.S. has now surpassed every other country in the number of people infected, a number of new questions have come up for employers in terms of what they need to do to protect employees, what it means to be considered an “essential” business, how emergency paid sick leave works, etc. For example, a number of cannabis employers have already completely changed the normal vetting process in an effort to quickly hire as many employees as possible, which could permanently alter employment contracts in this industry.
Federal and California State Employment Law Concerns for Cannabis
Employers and employees need to be aware of changes in the law, as, in some cases, new laws now designate that some qualify for coronavirus paid sick leave, for example. At the federal level, it is important for both employers and employees to note that the following laws apply, and to be aware of how they are affected by COVID-19:
- The Families First Coronavirus Act, which has two components related to paid leave: The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act
- The Americans with Disabilities Act
- The Fair Labor and Standards Act
- The Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act
And if you are located in California, the following also applies:
- The California “Stay at Home” Executive Order
- The “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” list
- Any applicable County and City orders that apply to you based on your specific location
- California Labor Code
- Fair Employment and Housing Act
- California WARN Act
Still, these laws do not answer new questions that have come up related to the coronavirus for cannabis businesses. They are trying to adhere to the standards defined by the federal government in order to be considered essential and allowed to remain open, while also adhering to any state-specific restrictions (for example, some states allow essential businesses to stay open as long as they prevent crowds from forming, or only allow medical sales to occur online or orders to be picked up curbside, etc.).
Contact Our California and New York Attorneys With Any Questions
If you have any questions related to cannabis laws, regulations, and/or related employment laws, etc., contact our California and New York coronavirus litigators today to find out how we can provide you with the very best in legal advice and litigation assistance.