Questions and challenges surrounding the use of medical marijuana and social media in the workplace are on a growing list of emerging employment practices liability insurance topics, experts say. Medical Marijuana is a major topic of debate in California, resulting to mixed messages being sent to workplaces across Los Angeles and Orange County in regards to everything from tolerance to basic coverage. In addition, the use of Social Media has led directly to enormous liability issues in the workplace. Should an employer be able to use social media like Facebook to investigate present and potential employees? At Total HR Management, we are keeping ahead of the curve when it comes to such cutting edge issues in human resources so we can provide effective protection and information for our clients. Let’s begin with the bevy of Medical Marijuana questions in the workplace.
According to Seth Brickman, a senior underwriter at Business Risk Partners, which manages EPL products for Lloyd’s, employment-related medical marijuana issues are “likely to explode over the next three-to-five years…. There are more and more states in line to have ballot initiatives for medical marijuana, never mind California, which has an upcoming ballot initiative to legalize it [for recreational use], and tax it and sell it like alcohol.” At Total HR, we believe in the right of our client companies to drug test and maintain a drug-free working environment. Safety standards are a top priority, and marijuana use outside the workplace increases potential risks and hazards.
The California ballot has thrown many issues into question, ranging from drug testing to insurance liability coverage. In the employment practices context, questions can arise over whether employers have an obligation to accommodate medical use. California laws remain unclear as to the extent to which employers have to accommodate medical marijuana use outside of work, and we specifically refer to a case where an employee cleared to use medical marijuana was fired for a positive drug test result, even though he used it outside of work.
Moving on, in terms of the use of social media and social networking sites to screen job applicants and investigate personal backgrounds, the liability of employing such screening tactics presents another looming exposure for employers. As a Total HR EPLI Attorney expressed: “I think that is going to become a big issue. We’re just starting to see a couple of lawsuits. When employers screen or check up on employees by viewing such sites, they need to be really careful because all of the same [employee] protections apply. The Internet is taking issues of personal privacy and private space and blowing them wide open. Since there have been so few actual judgments, the legal precedents have yet to be set.”
For example, there are many questions you would not ask during a job interview, like a potential employee’s religion or marital status. The answers to these questions, however, can easily be discovered on an individual’s Facebook page that’s not protected. Beyond being able to see the individual’s race, the majority of Social Media Sites, particularly Facebook, tend to reveal, even to strangers, the individual’s marital status and religious views. Since companies in Los Angeles and Orange County are at the cutting edge of the social networking revolution, they have to be extra careful of how they address social networking issues both with potential employees and present employees.
A bevy of questions have arisen, including: Can social networking sites be used as a tool in the hiring process when doing due diligence on a potential employee? What are the rules of being on a social networking site during work hours for present employees? Should the communication potential of social networking sites be used as a tool with employees and as a marketing device to recruit potential customers and clients? Finally, from an EPLI (Employment Practices and Liability Insurance) perspective, how do the answers to such questions affect questions of coverage, liability and potential future costs?
With a team on top-notched EPLI attorneys on staff, Total HR makes sure that such potential future time bombs, ranging from medical marijuana issues to the challenges of social networking, are addressed before they become problems for our clients, By providing the best in EPLI insurance coverage and educating our clients, Total HR helps to prevents possible problems before they arise. By keeping on the cutting edge of changes across Southern California, in both Los Angeles and Orange County, Total HR makes sure that your human resources are a benefit and not a liability.