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New York Alcohol & Drugs: What you need to know

Some states have comprehensive drug-testing laws that regulate or prohibit testing in the private or public sector, but New York does not have such a law. New York employers are therefore free to implement testing policies at their own discretion. There are details on implementing a drug-testing program Please see the national Alcohol and Drugs section.

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It is unlawful for any employer to refuse to hire, employ, license, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against an individual in compensation, promotion, or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of an individual's legal use of consumable products that:

  • Is before the beginning or after the conclusion of the employee's work hours,
  • Is off of the employer's premises, and
  • Does not involve use of the employer's equipment or other property (NY Exec. Law Art. 7 Sec. 201-d).

Note, however, that an employer may enforce an established substance abuse or alcohol program or workplace policy.

The New York Human Rights Law prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of certain classifications, including disability. Some states address alcohol or drug use in the disability category; New York does not. The Human Rights Law covers employers with four or more employees (NY Exec. Law Art. 15 Sec. 290 et seq.).

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) considerations. Alcohol abuse is considered a disability under the federal ADA. Employers that are covered by both New York law and the ADA must comply with the ADA requirements and treat alcohol abuse as a disability. The ADA does not consider current use of illegal drugs to be a disability. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees. There are more details on substance abuse and the ...


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