LAS VEGAS – The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Monday that Caesars Palace will no longer screen potential employees for marijuana use.
The Drug-Free Workplace Act in 1988 prompted the majority of Fortune 500 companies to have pre-employment drug testing policies in place during the war on drugs, but an inability to provide sufficient staff is now prompting companies to eliminate drug testing for marijuana use, according to the Associated Press.
Broome called the pre-employment testing policy counter-productive because it eliminated otherwise good contenders for employment.
Polls also indicate that 64 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana, and Broome confirmed that the fading stigma contributed to the policy change. He said that pre-employment testing will still be mandatory for positions that the U.S. Department of Transportation mandates drug testing for, such as positions operating a motor vehicle.
Bosses Say Weed No Loner Impedes Employment
Caesars is joining the trend of companies that are no longer testing potential workers for weed. James Reidy practices law at Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green and also chairs the firm's employment and labor group.
Reidy told NBC News that he finds more employers are sharing the perspective that smoking pot is no different than having a beer on the weekend and perceive testing as an unnecessary obstacle to hiring good staff members.
University of Notre Dame economics associate professor Abigail Wozniak agrees and told the Associated Press that the labor market is struggling and employers are finding it hard to find suitable employees. She added that as states continue to legalize the drug, employers find less importance in eliminating potentially good employees because of pot when it's now legal.
Employers Have Trouble Finding Sufficient Staff
States with recreational marijuana especially are performing less pre-employment drug tests, such as Colorado, which only has a 3 percent unemployment rate. Denver had a 10 percent decrease in employers performing pre-employment drug testing for marijuana use.
According to Curtis Graves of the Employers Council, employers can't find enough staff if they are too strict on employees off-work habits because the unemployment rate is so low.
Graves says that the overwhelming number of resorts alone in the state means that someone who gets fired for smoking weed can easily get another job. “They can lose their jobs and walk across the street and get another one.”
States with only medical marijuana are also dropping employee drug tests for weed. Michigan also has an unemployment rate of 3 percent and frustrated employers are disregarding drug tests that are positive for pot.
According to the owner of Express Employment in Grand Rapids, Janis Petrini, employers are increasingly still wanting to hire people who fail drug tests because of marijuana.
The Nevada Association of Employers CEO, Thoran Towler, also said that his executives say that they can't find enough staff and had to stop employment drug testing for marijuana out of sheer frustration, adding employers had to frequently compensate for being understaffed.
Caesars Palace will still test any employees that appear to be under the influence while at work. "If somebody is believed to be using or high at work, then we would continue to screen for marijuana and other drugs," said Broome, adding that while it is important not to eliminate good people from potential employment, it is also important that they be sober on the job.
As businesses begin to shift their drug policies, companies that have government contracts will continue to require drug testing. Positions in aviation, engineering, operating vehicles, and machinery are likely to continue with implementing current employment drug policies.