Federal Court Holds That Employees Cannot File Private Lawsuits Against Their Employers Under New Jersey Cannabis Law

By Lauren Marcus and Dimitrios Markos on June 12, 2023

In a case of first impression, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey found the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act ("the Act") does not create a private right of action for individuals who believe their rights have been violated under the Act.

Signed February 22, 2021, the Act legalized the use of recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and prohibited employers from taking any adverse action against an employee because they do or do not use cannabis items. While employers may still prohibit the use and possession of marijuana in the workplace or during working hours, they may not take any action solely on the basis of a positive drug test.

In the case before the district court, the employer rescinded the plaintiff's conditional offer of employment after he tested positive for marijuana.

The court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss and determined that there is no implied private right of action under the Act. In reaching the decision, the court made specific reference to the fact that the New Jersey Legislature did not explicitly state how the refusal-to-hire provision of the Act could be enforced and by whom, and what, if any, remedies would be available. To the contrary, the legislature created the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (the "Commission"), empowering it with the authority to investigate and aid in the prosecution of every violation of state laws relating to cannabis and cannabis-related items.

The court recognized that this decision rendered the language of the Act's employment provision "meaningless," and leaves employees without protections the Act might have contemplated. The court noted, however, that it was not a proper function of the court to rewrite the legislation on behalf of the legislature. The court further stated that if New Jersey lawmakers want workers to have protections under the Act, they need to rework the statute to clarify that individuals can take legal action under it.

The court specifically called on the New Jersey Legislature, the Commission, or the New Jersey Supreme Court to amend the law or issue a contrary ruling, as appropriate.

While the decision provides New Jersey businesses with a viable defense to private lawsuits brought pursuant to the Act, this landscape is ever-changing and the potential for an appeal or legislative intervention should be considered before taking any action based on applicant or employee marijuana use or a positive marijuana test result.

This article was originally published on Littler Mendelson's website. Click here to read the original article.

© 2023 Littler Mendelson. All Rights Reserved. LITTLER MENDELSON®, ASAP®, INSIGHT® and LITTLER REPORT® are registered trademarks of Littler Mendelson, P.C.

Posted: June 21, 2023

All Rights Reserved © 2023 Certiphi Screening, Inc.
This document and/or presentation is provided as a service to our customers. Its contents are designed solely for informational purposes, and should not be inferred or understood as legal advice or binding case law, nor shared with any third parties. Persons in need of legal assistance should seek the advice of competent legal counsel. Although care has been taken in preparation of these materials, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of the information contained within it. Anyone using this information does so at his or her own risk.

Thank you for your interest in Business Information Group. We have received your message and will contact you in one business day or less.
Something went wrong. Try again
You have exceeded the number of attempts to submit this form. As a result, your IP address has been temporarily blocked.
Something went wrong. Try again

Get In Touch

Send a Message *fields required

What are your Interests?optional

Even our RFP PROCESS is state-of-the-art.

Find out why

What Our Clients Are Saying

Everyone I have contacted at Certiphi has been a complete pleasure to work with. The Certiphi customer service rivals every other customer service I come in contact with. Everyone is always so professional, yet super nice! Thanks for all you do and keep up the amazing work and impeccable service that you provide!!!

Human Resources Assistant
Large Medical Staffing Firm

Thank you so much! You have such an incredible reputation within our office; I think we would all say your customer service levels are continually at about 125%!

Human Resources Generalist
Medical and Surgical Hospital

The response time has been very quick. The turnaround times are great. I love your systems and that I can go in and look at the process as its going.

Human Resources Manager
Medical Staffing Agency

It’s such a great customer service that you provide and I’m happy to tell that to anyone.

Pastoral Care Associate
Large Children's Hospital

Working with Certiphi has been such a pleasure. Certiphi has taught me so much, not just about backgrounds but also the meaning of great business.

Human Resources Specialist
Large Medical Staffing Firm

We flew through our NCQA licensure review.  We very much appreciate Certiphi's help in earning a 100% score for the files!

Accreditation Manager
Hospital System Analytics Company

You are about to leave

Ok, Continue Cancel