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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Colorado Supreme Court Rules Against Employee Fired For Marijuana Use

The Colorado Supreme Court issued a ruling this week addressing employer rights over employee use of marijuana. Coats had been fired from his customer service job at Dish Network after testing positive for marijuana in a random drug test.  He had been prescribed medical marijuana for pain suffered after a car accident left him paralyzed.  He sued Dish Network, arguing that his medical marijuana use was protected by a Colorado law that provides that employers may not fire workers for “any lawful activity” outside the workplace. The state supreme court disagreed, however, holding that because marijuana use was still illegal under federal laws, it was not protected by this state statute.  Coats v. Dish Network

The California Supreme Court had previously issued a similar ruling in a case involving a military veteran who had been prescribed marijuana for chronic back pain stemming from an injury he sustained while serving in the Air Force.  The employee was fired a week after he started a new job at RagingWire Telecommunications Inc. after a drug test revealed he had used marijuana.  He then sued the company, claiming that it did not accommodate his disability. Although the lower courts ruled in his favor, the Supreme Court held that employers may fire employees for using medical marijuana off duty, even with no evidence that the use had any effect on job performance.  The Court held that the Act did not restrict the actions of employers, who have a “legitimate interest in whether an employee uses the drug.”  Ross v. Raging Wire Telecommunications, Inc.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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