The end of the 2019 Texas legislative session, which ran until May 27, brings new challenges for employers. With the signing of HB 3703 (effective Sept. 1, 2019), Texas expanded the list of conditions for which doctors may prescribe low-THC cannabis under the state’s Compassionate Use Program. Additionally, with the signing of HB 1325 (effective immediately) Texas legalized the production of certain hemp products and the purchase of certain consumable hemp products, including CBD oil.
CBD oil is a non-intoxicating product that is used to treat epilepsy and has been studied for a variety of other applications. However, CBD oil can contain trace amounts of THC, the intoxicating substance in cannabis that is prohibited by most drug-free workplace policies. Because both new laws effectively increase the availability of substances containing THC, employers should consider how their drug-free workplace policies interact with such substances, and whether their duty to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities extends to permitting use of such products.
For Dallas and San Antonio employers, a bill that failed to become law will create additional challenges. SB 15 would have prohibited municipalities from adopting ordinances that create terms of employment in conflict with state or federal law. Such a law would have preempted the paid sick leave ordinances recently enacted in Dallas and San Antonio. In the absence of such a law or successful legal challenges to the ordinances, most Dallas and San Antonio employers must prepare to comply with paid sick leave ordinances by August 1, 2019.
Finally, Austin employers will get no relief from the city’s ban-the-box ordinance, after SB 2488 failed to become law. The bill would have banned Texas political subdivisions from adopting ordinances that regulate a private employer’s ability to request criminal history information from applicants or employees. For now, Austin remains the only city in the state to have passed a ban-the-box ordinance.