In this session at the recent NJLOM Conference in Atlantic City, Armando Riccio, Esq., discussed some of the hottest labor relations topics anticipated at the negotiations table, as well as the impact of recent court and agency decisions and legislative and regulatory changes.

For over two decades, Riccio has concentrated his law practice in the area of public and private sector employment matters. As solicitor and labor relations/employment law counsel to a variety of public and private sector entities, Riccio has expertise in areas of training, policy development and administration, hiring, promotion and layoff processes/procedures, medical leaves and accommodation issues, union negotiations,investigations, disciplinary matters and grievance proceedings. Riccio offered suggestions to avoid litigation headaches, stay within the lines of authority, and gave an overview of some common disciplinary issues in the workplace.

One of the main pieces of advice he provided to attendees was for administrators to familiarize themselves with the Equal Employment Opportunity Policy Statement. An EEO Policy Statement is a reminder that all employees are protected from discrimination under law. This policy safeguards federal employees and job applicants from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), parental status, national origin, age, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), political affiliation, military service, or other non-merit-based factors.

He also addressed workplace drug testing and marijuana usage, given changes and legalization of some substances in recent years. The current law allows state residents, over the age of 21, to engage in the recreational use of marijuana. It also prohibits employers from taking adverse employment action, solely based on an employee's use of marijuana while off duty or out of the office.

“Keep in mind, employers are prohibited from taking into account whether or not a person uses

Cannabis-based products,” said Riccio. “Familiarize yourself with the laws around post-legalization drug testing and disciplinary actions as we’re only going to see more instances.” 

As a parting note, Riccio emphasized that documentation is key with any labor negotiations and employment issues. Prompt reporting and “sticking to the book” will save the municipality in the long run!