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Amazon Faces Class Action for Rescinding Job Offers Due to Positive Marijuana Tests

By Douglas Lipsky

Lipsky Lowe has filed a proposed class action against Inc. for violating a New York City law barring testing applicants for marijuana at local facilities. The lawsuit is seeking to certify a class of individuals who applied for jobs with Amazon in the city and were required to submit to drug tests for marijuana.

The Backdrop

The complaint against Amazon, filed in Brooklyn federal court, alleges that our client was turned down for a job as a sorter at a Staten Island warehouse in 2020 after failing a test for marijuana, in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).

The NYCHRL was amended in May 2020 by prohibiting covered employers from requiring applicants to submit to testing for marijuana — the law includes an exemption for jobs involving the use of heavy equipment or machinery. 

Our client alleges that he was offered a job with Amazon as a package sorter last November making $17.25 per hour. After not hearing back from the company for a month, he contacted Amazon to learn he was removed for consideration: the offer was contingent upon the results of the test. 

The complaint alleges that the position did not meet the specifications for marijuana testing. The job description for the sorter job involves packing, sorting, and scanning packages, not operating heavy machinery or equipment.

In addition to seeking to certify a class of individuals who were rejected for failing marijuana tests, our client is seeking back pay and punitive damages, and an injunction barring Amazon from further revoking job offers due to marijuana use.

According to the complaint, “With substantial growth and turnover, the high number of employees working at its New York City facilities, the prevalence of marijuana usage and Amazon’s uniform policy to screen prospective employees for marijuana use, Amazon has refused to hire more than 100 individuals because they tested positive for marijuana in a pre-employment drug screen.”

Why This Matters

While the use of recreational marijuana has yet to be legalized in New York, the complaint notes that “a significant portion of the general public now uses some form of recreational marijuana.”

Moreover, a number of cities and states have adopted laws barring marijuana testing for certain positions.

The outcome of the lawsuit is uncertain at this juncture; however, this case highlights our commitment to protecting the employment rights of workers in New York. If you believe you have been turned down for a job after failing a test for marijuana, you have rights under the NYCHRL. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

About the Author
Douglas Lipsky is a co-founding partner of Lipsky Lowe LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, unpaid overtime, and unpaid tips. He also represents clients in complex wage and hour claims, including collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class actions under the laws of many different states. If you have questions about this article, contact Douglas today.