Court to Decide on Employment Protections for Marijuana Users

by Salvatore P. Ciulla on February 7, 2015 · 0 comments

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A quadriplegic medical marijuana user is waiting to hear from the Colorado Supreme Court if his employer is legally allowed to fire him for using medical marijuana in his personal time.


Brandon Coats used to work for Dish Network, a company with a zero-tolerance drug policy. But Coats, who is a quadriplegic, has been a medical marijuana user since 2009. He says he was never impaired while working, and thought he was protected from termination for marijuana use by the state’s Lawful Activities Statute. The statute prohibits employers from terminating employees for legal off-duty behaviors.


In other states that have also legalized marijuana, such as Washington State, California, Montana and Oregon, the courts have all ruled against employees fired for failing drug tests on the grounds that federal law trumps state law. A ruling in favor of Coats, say legal experts, could muddle current employment law practices and result in a flood of lawsuits from employees who have been fired for failing to pass a drug test due to legal marijuana use.


Currently, California Norml offers a model workplace policy for employers who want to keep their place of employment professional while making allowances for employees who use marijuana either recreationally or medicinally. SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, recommends that employers educate them selves on state laws regarding marijuana use, decide on a policy, and enforce it consistently.


The Law Office of Salvatore Ciulla located in Orange County, California, represents individuals accused of murder and manslaughter, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and embezzlement, child abuse and domestic violence, narcotics possession and sales, drunk driving (DUI) and vehicular homicide, sexual assault and three strikes cases. We also take Juvenile Court cases and all misdemeanor offenses.


Our mission is to provide the best legal representation and counsel to all clients. Every client and every case is important. Call us at 714-542-0500 for a free analysis of your case and/or charges, or contact us at SalCiullaLaw.com.

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