Have you looked at your policies and practices regarding marijuana use by your employees lately?
Did you know that nearly 28,000 Connecticut residents now rely on medical marijuana as a therapy for their illnesses?
And many of those people are gainfully employed.
Well, a federal district court in Connecticut recently ruled in favor of a job applicant (Katelin Noffsinger) after an employer refused to hire her because she tested positive for marijuana in a pre-employment drug test.
In this particular case, the plaintiff told her prospective employer (Bridge Brook Health & Rehabilitation Center) that she was using medical marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder on the advice of her physician. She reported she was using it at night to help with sleep.
The company proceeded to make her a job offer contingent on her passing a drug test.
She failed the test – showing a positive result for THC – a chemical component of marijuana. In August of 2016, two days before Noffsinger was supposed to start work, a compliance officer for Bridge Brook said Noffsinger was disqualified from the job because medical marijuana is not an approved drug by federal law and that Bridge Brook uses “the federal law which indicates marijuana is still illegal.”
Noffsinger sued claiming the employer violated the Connecticut Palliative Use of Marijuana Act’s (PUMA) provision, which states:
“[U]nless required by federal law or required to obtain funding: … No employer may refuse to hire a person or may discharge, penalize or threaten an employee solely on the basis of such person’s or employee’s status as a qualifying patient.”
In the ruling in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, the judge stated: “There are no genuine fact issues in dispute about why plaintiff’s job offer was rescinded, and there is no legitimate dispute that defendant’s rescinding of plaintiff’s job offer was contrary to plaintiff’s right not be to subject to discrimination because of her status as a qualifying patient.”
Compensatory damages have not yet been awarded.
There are currently 30 medical conditions for adults, and six conditions for those under 18 that make someone eligible for medical marijuana treatment in Connecticut.
If you are an employer in Connecticut and need guidance on the topic of employee use of intoxicating substances, contact the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale. We do one thing and one thing only – we are an employer defense law firm – in fact, we are one of the largest employer defense law firms in the region. What’s more, each of our attorneys has over 20 years of experience in employment and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please call us if we can help you.
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