For many people who want to use cannabis, workplace drug screenings represent a major source of anxiety. Often unannounced and always potentially job-threatening, marijuana tests significantly impact what one is able to do in their free time. But for anyone who wants to work for Caesars Entertainment Group in Las Vegas, those concerns are now a thing of the past. And that’s because Caesars has stopped testing prospective employees for marijuana.
For Employee-Hungry Companies, Weed Screenings Are A Major Frustration
Data on the frequency of workplace drug tests is hard to come by. But a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that more than 50 percent of companies conduct drug tests.
That number is steadily falling, however, as more employers opt out of pre-employment drug screenings. The trend is nationwide but especially pronounced in states that have legalized adult-use cannabis.
If it’s legal to use cannabis when you’re not on the job, what right do employers have to fire you or pass you up as a candidate if you test positive for weed?
Testing for workplace intoxication is one thing. But screening for a prospective employee’s use of cannabis off the clock is something else entirely, and companies are deciding to give up the chase.
There’s a prevailing sense that workplace drug tests for marijuana are doing more harm to a company than good. And for companies eager to hire the most qualified candidate, marijuana screenings are becoming a major frustration.
For Caesars Entertainment Corp., the need for good workers was in conflict with the practice of drug testing. And the problem has gotten worse since Nevada became an adult-use state.
“A number of states have changed their laws and we felt we might be missing some good candidates because of the marijuana issue and we felt that pre-screening for marijuana was on the whole, counterproductive,” said Rich Broome, Executive Vice President of Corporate Communications and Community affairs for Caesars.
It’s not just that cultural attitudes about cannabis have shifted dramatically over the past couple of decades. The job market has also changed. Companies are no longer interested in losing out on qualified employees just for cannabis use.
Caesars Won’t Stop Testing For Marijuana Entirely
While Caesars has stopped testing prospective employees for marijuana, they haven’t totally abandoned the practice. In fact, there are two reasons why a Caesars employee would still have to pass a drug screening.
First, transportation jobs like drivers require mandatory drug screenings. Companies like Caesars don’t have a say in the matter, either. These jobs have certain U.S. Department of Transportation requirements that force companies to pre-screen employees for cannabis. Caesars will still follow those federal work requirements.
Second, if there’s a suspicion that a worker is using cannabis on the job, or coming to work high, they might have to face a drug test.
“If somebody is believed to be using or high at work, then we would continue to screen for marijuana and other drugs,” said company spokesperson Rich Broome.
Caesars will still screen employees and candidates for hard drugs, including heroin, cocaine, and opiates.
Although Caesars has stopped testing prospective employees for marijuana, it’s not clear whether other major entertainment companies in Las Vegas will follow suit. Two factors, however, suggest they will.
First, Trump’s Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta made the suggestion at a congressional hearing in April that employers should “take a step back” on drug testing. “We have all these Americans that are looking to work,” Acosta said. “Are we aligning our drug testing policies with what’s right for the workforce?”
Second, CEO of the Nevada Association of Employers Thoran Towler says executives aren’t worried about what workers do on their own time. “They say, ‘I have to get people on the casino floor or make the beds, and I can’t worry about what they’re doing in their spare time’.”