Kathryn J. Russo

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Kathryn J. Russo is a Principal in the Long Island, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She is a firm resource on the legal issues implicated in workplace drug and alcohol testing arising under federal, state and local laws.

Ms. Russo assists clients with workplace problems involving drugs and alcohol, and gives advice about compliance with all pertinent drug and alcohol testing laws. She prepares substance abuse policies to comply with all federal drug and alcohol testing regulations (including all agencies of the U.S. Department of Transportation), as well as the drug and alcohol testing laws of all 50 states. In addition, she defends employers in litigation where drug and alcohol test results are at issue, and frequently conducts “reasonable suspicion” training for employers in connection with their substance abuse policies. Ms. Russo also counsels employers on leave and disability management issues arising when employees seek leave for substance abuse rehabilitation.

In addition to her workplace substance abuse practice, Ms. Russo concentrates her practice on employment litigation, defending employers in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies and arbitration panels in litigation related to employment discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, whistleblower, wage-hour and related tort and contract claims. Ms. Russo advises clients on compliance with various state and federal laws affecting the workplace, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and New York State and City laws, among others. She guides clients through internal investigations, disciplinary actions and medical leave issues, and prepares workplace policies and employee handbooks. Ms. Russo frequently lectures and conducts management training for employers on a wide variety of employment law topics, including EEO/anti-harassment, FMLA, ADA, substance abuse, drug testing and privacy issues.

Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Ms. Russo worked for a law firm in New York City, where she litigated general commercial disputes, employment matters, legal malpractice cases, and defended attorneys and physicians in disciplinary proceedings.

While attending law school, she was the Articles & Commentary Editor for the Fordham Urban Law Journal.

Latest Articles

The Department of Transportation’s operating agencies have announced their random drug and alcohol testing rates for 2019. The Federal Transit Administration and the United States Coast Guard have raised their random drug testing rates to 50% for 2019. All other random testing rates remain unchanged from 2018. Agency 2019 Random Drug Testing Rate 2019 Random Alcohol Testing Rate Federal Aviation Administration 25% 10% Federal Motor Carrier Administration 25% 10% Federal Railway Administration 25% covered…
A federal appeals court has held that a public school district may drug test applicants for substitute teacher positions, concluding that such testing does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.  Friedenberg v. School Bd. Of Palm Beach County, 9:17-cv-80221-RLR (11th Cir. Dec. 20, 2018). Joan Friedenberg applied for a position as a substitute teacher in the Palm Beach County School District. Among other things, the School District required her…
A Delaware state court has held that a medical marijuana user may proceed with a lawsuit against his former employer after his employment was terminated due to a positive drug test result for marijuana. Chance v. Kraft Heinz Foods Co., C.A. No. K18C-01-056 NEP (Del. Super. Ct. Dec. 17, 2018). Jeremiah Chance worked for Kraft Heinz as a Yard Equipment Operator. He suffered from various back problems and obtained a medical marijuana card in…
Three states approved new marijuana laws on Election Day 2018. Voters approved medical marijuana laws in Missouri and Utah, while Michigan voters approved a recreational marijuana law. Michigan: Recreational Marijuana Michigan Proposal 1 was passed by a majority (approximately 55% “Yes” and 45% “No”). Proposal 1, the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, legalizes recreational marijuana in the state for adults 21 years of age or older. The law generally will allow adults to…
In a memorandum to Regional Administrators dated October 11, 2018, OSHA clarified the agency’s position as to whether certain types of drug testing would be considered violations of 29 C.F.R. §1904.35(b)(1)(iv). That regulation prohibits employers from discharging or discriminating against an employee for reporting a work-related injury or illness. As we discussed in an earlier blog post, OSHA previously published commentary stating that employers could not use “drug testing (or the threat of drug testing)…
The U.S. Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration announced on September 27, 2018 that Epidiolex, a cannabis-based drug approved by the Food & Drug Administration, is being placed in Schedule V of the federal Controlled Substances Act, the least restrictive schedule of the CSA. This is the first time that any marijuana-based drug has been approved by a federal agency for lawful medical use. As we discussed in our earlier blog post, the…
A federal court in Connecticut has held that refusing to hire a medical marijuana user who tested positive on a pre-employment drug test violates the state’s medical marijuana law. The Court granted summary judgment to the applicant on her claim for employment discrimination but declined to award her attorneys’ fees or punitive damages. The Court also dismissed her claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Co., LLC, d/b/a Bride Brook
A federal court in New Jersey has held that neither the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (“NJCUMMA”) nor the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) compels an employer to waive its requirements for employees to pass drug tests, even when those drug tests include testing for marijuana. Cotto v. Ardagh Glass Packing, CV-18-1037 (D.N.J. August 10, 2018). Plaintiff Cotto was employed as a forklift operator and injured himself by hitting his head on…
All applicants and employees working in any New Jersey Department of Human Services (“DHS”) funded, licensed or regulated program serving adults with developmental disabilities are subject to mandatory drug testing, effective May 1, 2018. Under the Stephen Komninos’ Law, New Jersey Public Law 2017, Chapter 238, covered employers are required to administer pre-employment, random and reasonable suspicion drug testing. The law does not require alcohol testing. The law applies to “direct care staff members.” That…
Oklahoma became the 30th state to pass a medical marijuana law after voters approved it on June 26, 2018. The law gives broad discretion to physicians in prescribing medical marijuana, which should make it fairly easy to obtain. Additionally, the law restricts employers from taking action against applicants or employees solely based on their status as a medical marijuana license holder or due to a positive drug test result. The law takes effect on July…