An Employer’s Guide to Illinois Cannabis Regulation– Not so Fast! “Zero Tolerance”​ may not mean zero tolerance.

As of January 1, Illinois employers have to deal with recreational cannabis, whether they like it or not.

While Illinois has been a relatively lax medical cannabis state for years, legalizing cannabis for recreational usage places it under the protection of the Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against an employee or applicant for using a “lawful product” — like recreational cannabis. And while the Right to Privacy Act does carve out an exception for the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (“Cannabis Act”), this exception does not mean that cannabis users are not protected against discrimination by Illinois law.

The Illinois Cannabis Act does allow for employers to maintain a “zero tolerance” drug testing policy — but this does not mean that employees who test positive for THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) can be automatically discharged just because the employer’s drug testing policy says so…

…because under the Cannabis Act, only employers whose drug testing policies are “reasonable” are provided with (limited) protection from lawsuit…

…and because an employee can test positive for THC without being “impaired” or “under the influence”.

In other words, the courts could interpret “zero tolerance” to mean “zero tolerance for impairment” instead of “zero tolerance for THC”.

What’s an employer to do?

  1. Adopt a drug testing policy that focuses on “impairment” or being “under the influence”;
  2. Plainly and legally define what those terms mean;
  3. Train supervisors in recognizing and documenting impairment;
  4. Provide for due process with regard to the employee.

This article is the first in a 5-part series on “An Employer’s Guide to Illinois Cannabis Regulation”.

HesseMartone Welcomes Tim O’Grady to the Firm

HesseMartone is excited to announce that Tim O’Grady has joined the firm as an Attorney.

Prior to joining HesseMartone, Tim has represented employers in race, gender, age, and disability claims. He has represented construction companies in numerous contractual disputes in court, and he has advised construction companies concerning legal issues for Missouri, Illinois, and Federal projects. He has also represented corporate clients in insurance coverage and subrogation litigation, and he advises clients on employment agreements and non-compete agreements.

Tim is licensed to practice law in Missouri and Illinois. See his page on our firm website here.

Abby Schwab Coordinates Gifts for Families in Need

The United Way’s “100 Neediest Cases” campaign has helped thousands of families and individuals during the holiday season for generations.  Each year, 100 cases are selected from a list of thousands provided by more than 60 social service agencies throughout the St. Louis region. 

Abby Schwab, a HesseMartone attorney, coordinated this year’s “adoption” of three families from the United Way’s “100 Neediest Cases” in the hope of making their holiday season just a little brighter.  Throughout the month of December, Abby and the HesseMartone elves worked together to coordinate and shop for individualized gifts for each family member. 

In its seventh year of participation, HesseMartone was able to provide the families with beds, bedding, a dining table and chairs, towels, blankets, pots and pans, a high chair, basic household cleaning supplies, clothes, shoes, winter coats, and the team was even able to help one family pay off an outstanding electric bill.  In addition, the HesseMartone elves made sure that each child received most, if not all, items on their “wish list,” ranging from dolls and dollhouses to Lego sets and board games.  

HesseMartone invests much thought into helping others in a meaningful way and invites you to do the same. Visit to learn more or to get involved in this program.

Congratulations to Mike Schmitt!

Mike Schmitt, a Senior Attorney at our firm, has taken a position as in-house counsel in Melbourne, Florida.

Mike is a graduate of Washington University School of Law, and he was an Associate with HesseMartone until 2010 when he left to practice labor and employment law in Las Vegas, Nevada and then Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2015, he rejoined our firm in a Senior position to practice in the areas of employment law and labor law and to handle general business law matters.

We greatly appreciate Mike’s time with HesseMartone, and we are excited for his new opportunity as an in-house counsel. All the best in Florida, Mike!

Little Wishes are a Big Priority

Of the infinite number of charitable causes to support, HesseMartone finds special importance in Little Wishes.

The Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition’s Little Wishes program gives foster children in the metropolitan St. Louis region the opportunity to ask for a special gift or experience. Last year alone, donors granted more than 3,700 Wishes – enabling every single foster child in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area to receive a gift. Some children wish for tangible items like books and toys while other children request funding for dance lessons. 

Morgan Taylor, a HesseMartone attorney, coordinated the firm’s 2019 contribution to the Little Wishes Holiday Program. This year, as it has in years past, the firm granted several wishes for bikes. This year’s bike donations focused on older foster children. “For someone who is 19 and aging out of the foster care system, a bike is more than just a toy and can be used for transportation. It can give them the autonomy and ability to work and get to school,” said Morgan when explaining why she chose to fulfill the wishes of older children.  

This year, the firm granted multiple “experience” wishes, including tickets to the St. Louis Blues and the Fox Theatre. Morgan goes on to share her thoughts when carefully coordinating the company’s donations: “In my mind I was trying to think if I was a child in foster care awaiting adoption, what would be most meaningful to me. An experience is far more meaningful than a toy and is also more practical. Based on how often a child is switching homes, a tangible item may or may not make it with them to the next home – an experience is something that stays with them. From my childhood, I don’t remember many of the toys that I had, but I do remember my first Blues game.”

Additionally, the firm’s 2019 donations fulfilled particularly unique wishes. “Only one student asked for prom and only one asked for senior portraits. I feel like if that’s the only thing you’re asking for, then it must be important to you.” 

Andy Martone gets his firm involved each year and continues to focus on donating bikes and meaningful experiences. Starting each year in late November, and continuing through December, the Little Wishes program is transformed into the Little Wishes Holiday Program.  The program is once again calling on the generosity and kindness of our community to grant Little Wishes.

Join HesseMartone by donating to Little Wishes:  


Day One of 113th Annual Convention Adjourns in Hospitality Room

The AGC’s Annual Conference is a two-day convention is held at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield, Illinois, and features a full itinerary including a trade show expo along with discussions on industry affairs. Day one highlights include the associate/affiliate member expo, a safety seminar,  a governmental affairs seminar, and the Education Foundation Live Auction. The evening ended in the Hospitality Suite from 9:00 pm to midnight.

HesseMartone sponsored the Hospitality Room along with Altorfer Cat, Commercial Fabricators, Illinois Civil Contractors, Midwest Fence, P.H. Drew, Inc.

The Associated General Contractors of Illinois  (AGCI) is one of the largest, most influential heavy-highway trade organizations in Illinois and share close relationships with IDOT and the Illinois legislature.The AGCI’s membership base includes both contractors and suppliers— many business opportunities are generated between the two groups.  Members receive access to a complete range of programs and services, are kept up-to-date on industry news, and receive VIP invites to various networking events.

Bunker Hill, Illinois Selects HesseMartone for Representation

The city of Bunker Hill in Illinois has selected Rick Stewart, Managing Principal of HM’s Springfield, Illinois Office, to represent its contract negotiations. Rick has more than fifteen years’ experience handling contract negotiations and labor issues in the public sector in Illinois, Missouri, and New York and has developed a reputation throughout Illinois for excellence in this area.

You can learn more about Rick here or see him on LinkedIn.

Cheers to Retirement for Mary Osborn of HesseMartone

We salute Mary Osborn, a lawyer at our firm, as she joins her husband in retirement to travel. Mary worked out of our firm’s Chicago office as special counsel. Her career included nearly three decades of work as in-house counsel and in private practice, and she primarily practiced in the areas of labor and employment law, representing management and public sector employers.

We are grateful for her time with our firm, and we will miss her dearly. All the best in retirement, Mary!

Andrew Martone Named Super Lawyer

Super Lawyers selects Andrew Martone as a Top Rated Employment & Labor Attorney in St. Louis, MO in 2019.

Super Lawyers’ identifies lawyers with proven track records through independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations. This rating service identifies outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Nicolle Semro – Welcome to the Firm!

We welcome Nicolle Semro who is joining our firm as a legal assistant/paralegal in our Springfield office. Nicolle will start with the Firm this Friday, November 1. She and Rick will be in the St. Louis office on Tuesday to introduce her to everyone at the main office.

Nicolle returned to Springfield, IL in April from Jacksonville, FL to be closer to family. Since moving back to Illinois, Nicolle has worked as a Legal Assistant in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Springfield. She previously worked as a Legal Assistant/Paralegal for three years in Jacksonville, Florida. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Eastern Illinois University.

We are excited for Nicolle join the HesseMartone team, and we look forward to working together!